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Holy Blood, Holy Grail 

Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln 


PART ONE The Mystery 21 

1 Village of Mystery 23 

Rennes-leChateau and Berenger Sauniere 24 
The Possible Treasures 32 

The Intrigue 37 

2 The Cathars and the Great Heresy 41 
The Albigensian Crusade 42 

The Siege of Montsegur 49 

The Cathar Treasure 51 

The Mystery of the Cathars 56 

3 The Warrior Monks 59 

Knights Templar The Orthodox Account 60 
Knights Templar The Mysteries 75 
Knights Templar- The Hidden Side 83 

4 Secret Documents 94 

PART TWO The Secret Society 1 09 

The Order Behind the Scenes 1 1 1 

The Mystery Surrounding the Foundation of the Knights Templar 116 

Louis VII and the Prieure de Sion 1 1 9 

The Cutting of the Elm' at Gisors 1 20 

5 Ormus 123 The Prieure at Orleans 126 
The "Head' of the Templars 1 28 

The Grand Masters of the Templars 1 29 

6 The Grand Masters and the Underground Stream 133 
Rene d'Anjou 138 

Rene and the Theme of Arcadia 140 

The Rosicrucian Manifestos 144 

The Stuart Dynasty 148 

Charles Nodier and His Circle 154 

Debussy and the Rose-Croix 158 

Jean Cocteau 161 

The Two John XXI I Is 164 

7 Conspiracy through the Centuries 168 
The Prieure de Sion in France 170 
The Dukes of Guise and Lorraine 173 
The Bid for the Throne of France 176 
The Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement 178 

Chateau Barberie 183 

Nicolas Fouquet 185 

Nicolas Poussin 187 

Rosslyn Chapel and Shugborough Hall 190 

The Pope's Secret Letter 192 

The Rock of Sion 192 

The Catholic Modernist Movement 194 

The Protocols of Sion 198 

The Hieron du Val d'Or 203 

8 The Secret Society Today 209 
Alain Poher212 

The Lost King 213 

Curious Pamphlets in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris 216 

The Catholic Traditionalists 21 9 

The Convent of 1981 and Cocteau's Statutes 223 

M. Plantard de Saint-Clair 230 

The Politics of the Prieure de Sion 237 

9 The Long-haired Monarchs 245 
Legend and the Merovingians 245 
The Bear from Arcadia 249 

The Sicambrians Enter Gaul 250 

Merovee and His Descendants 251 

Blood Royal 253 

Clovis and His Pact with the Church 254 

Dagobert II 257 

The Usurpation by the Carolingians 265 

The Exclusion of Dagobert II from History 269 

Prince Guillem de Gellone, Comte de Razes 271 

Prince Ursus 274 

The Grail Family 277 

The Elusive Mystery 281 

10 The Exiled Tribe 282 

PART THREE The Bloodline 293 

11 The Holy Grail 295 

The Legend of the Holy Grail 297 

The Story of Wolfram von Eschenbach 306 

The Grail and Cabalism 318 

The Play on Words 319 

The Lost Kings and the Grail 321 

The Need to Synthesise 324 

Our Hypothesis 328 

12 The Priest-King Who Never Ruled 331 
Palestine at the Time of Jesus 338 

The History of the Gospels 343 
The Marital Status of Jesus 346 

The Wife of Jesus 349 
The Beloved Disciple 355 
The Dynasty of Jesus 362 
The Crucifixion 366 
Who was Barabbas? 368 
The Crucifixion in Detail 371 
The Scenario 377 

13 The Secret the Church Forbade 379 
The Zealots 389 

The Gnostic Writings 399 

14 The Grail Dynasty 405 
Judaism and the Merovingians 409 
The Principality in Septimania 412 
The Seed of David 41 9 

15 Conclusion and Portents for the Future 421 
Postscript 439 

Appendix The Alleged Grand Masters of the Prieure de Sion 441 

Bibliography 467 

Notes and References 481 

Index 517 Illustrations 


I The village of Rennes-le Chateau 2 The Chateau d'Hautpoul 3 Berenger 

Sauniere 4 The Villa Bethania 5 The Visigothic pillar in the church 



Chateau 6 The inscribed calvary near the entrance of the church at 
Rennes-leChateau 7 The Tour Magdala, Rennes-leChateau 8 The Cathar 
castle of Montsegur 9 A fifteenth-century print of Jerusalem 10 The 
Tomb of David, Abbey of Notre Dame duMont de Sion, Jerusalem 1 1 The 
Temple, Jerusalem 12 The octagonal tower of the castle of Gisors 13 The 
sea wall of the castle of Athlit, Palestine 14 The church of the 
Knights Templar, London 15 Interior of the Temple church, London 16 a 
Seal of the Abbey of Notre Dame duMont de Sion b Seal of the Knights 
Templar 1 7 The Abbey of Orval 1 8 The tomb near Arques 1 9 "La Fontaine 
de Fortune', by Rene d'Anjou 20 "Et in Arcadia Ego', by Guercino 21 "Et 
in Arcadia Ego', by Poussin 22 "Les Bergers d'Arcadie," by Poussin 23 
"The Shepherds' Monument', Shugborough Hall 24 A seventeenth-century 
Masonic tomb 25 The trepanned skull of Dagobert II 26 Pierre Plantard 
de Saint-Clair 27 Sword hilt and scabbard found at the grave of 
Childeric I 28 The crystal ball found in Childeric's grave 29 The gold 
bees found in Childeric's grave 30 Garway church, Herefordshire 31 
Graffiti on the piscina, Garway church 32 Jewish coin from the time of 


33 Window at Alet Cathedral 34 A fifteenth-century illumination 

depicting fleur-de lys 35 Untitled painting of Godfroi de 

Bouillon, by Claude 



1 The major sites of investigation in France 2 Rennes-leChateau and its 

environs 3 The Languedoc of the Cathars 4The major castles and towns of 

the Holy Land in the mid-twelfth century 5Jerusalem the Temple and the 

area of Mount Sion in the mid-twelfth century 6 The Duchy of Lorraine 

in the mid-sixteenth century 7 The Merovingian kingdoms 8 Judaea, 

showing the only avenue of escape for the 

Tribe of Benjamin 9 Palestine at the time of Jesus 10 The Jewish 



1 The dukes of Guise and Lorraine 2 The Merovingian dynasty the kings 3 
The Merovingian dynasty the counts of Razes 4 The Merovingian dynasty 
the lost kings 5 The families of Gisors, Payen and Saint-Clair 


1 The Plantard family crest 2 The cover design of the novel, Circuit 3 

The coat of arms of Rennes-leChdteau 4 The official device of the 

Prieure de Sion 


We should like particularly to thank Ann Evans, without whom this book 

could not have been written. We should also like to thank the 

following: Jehan TAscuiz, Robert Beer, Ean Begg, Dave Bennett, Colin 

Bloy, Juliet Burke, 

Henri Buthion, Jean-Luc Chaumeil, Philippe de Cherisey, Jonathan 


Shirley Collins, Chris Cornford, Painton Cowan, Roy Davies, Liz 


Janice Glaholm, John Glover, Liz Greene, Margaret Hill, Renee Hinchley, 


Holland, Paul Johnstone, Patrick Lichfield, Douglas Lockhart, Guy 


Jane McGillivray, Andrew MaxwellHyslop, Pam Morris, Lea Olbinson, 


Plantard de Saint-Clair, Bob Roberts, David Rolfe, John Saul, Gerard 


Sede, Rosalie Siegel, John Sinclair, Jeanne Thomason, Louis Vazart, 


Waldeck, Anthony Wall, Andy Whitaker, the staff of the British Museum 

Reading Room and the residents of Rennes-leChateau. 

Photographs were kindly supplied by the following: AGRACI, Paris, 35; 

Archives Nationales, Paris, 16a; Michael Baigent, London, 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 

24, 25, 26, 30, 31, 33; Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, 27, 28, 29; Michel Bouffard, 

Carcassonne, 4; W. Braun, Jerusalem, 11, 13; 

British Library, London, 9, 16b, 34; British Museum, London (reproduced 

by courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum), 32; Courtauld 

Institute of 

Art, London, 10; Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth (reproduced by 

permission of the Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement), 21 ; Jean 

Dieuzaide/YAN photo, Toulouse, 8; Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome, 20; Patrick 

Lichfield, London, 23; Henry Lincoln, London, 3; 

Musee du 

Louvre, Paris, 22; Ost. Nationalbibliothek, Vienna, 19; 

Permission to quote extracts in copyright was granted by: Le Charivari 

magazine, Paris for material from issue no. 18, "Les Archives du 

Prieure de 

Sion'; Victor Gollancz, London and Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc, New 

York for specified material on pp. 334-36 from pp. 14-17 in The 

Secret Gospel by Morton Smith copyright 1973 by Morton Smith; Random 

House, Inc." New York for material from 

Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach, translated by Helen Mustard and 


E. Passage, copyright 1961 by Helen Mustard and Charles Passage. 


In 1969, en route for a summer holiday in the Cevennes, I made the casual purchase of a 

paperback. Le Tresor Maudit by Gerard de Sede was a mystery story a lightweight, 

entertaining blend of historical fact, genuine mystery and conjecture. It might have 

remained consigned to the post-holiday oblivion of all such reading had I not stumbled 

upon a curious and glaring omission in its pages. 

The "accursed treasure' of the title had apparently been found in the 1890s by a village 

priest through the decipherment of certain cryptic documents unearthed in his church. 

Although the purported texts of two of these documents were reproduced, the "secret 

messages' said to be encoded within them were not. The implication was that the 

deciphered messages had again been lost. And yet, as I found, a cursory study of the 

documents reproduced in the book reveals at least one concealed message. Surely the 

author had found it. In working on his book he must have given the documents more than 

fleeting attention. He was bound, therefore, to have found what I had found. Moreover 

the message was exactly the kind of titillating snippet of "proof that helps to sell a "pop' 

paperback. Why had M. de Sede not published it? 

During the ensuing months the oddity of the story and the possibility 

of further discoveries drew me back to it from time to time. The 

appeal was that of a rather more than usually intriguing crossword 

puzzle with the added curiosity of de Slide's silence. As I caught 

tantalising new glimpses of layers of meaning buried within the text of 

the documents, I began to wish I could devote more to the mystery of 

Rennes-leChateau than mere moments snatched from my working life as a 

writer for television. And so, in the late autumn of 1970, I presented 

the story as a possible documentary subject to the late Paul Johnstone, 

executive producer of the BBC's historical and archaeological series 

Paul saw the possibilities, and I was dispatched to France to talk to de Sede and 
explore the prospects for a short film. 

During Christmas week of 1970 I met de Sede in Paris. At that first meeting, I asked the 
question which had nagged at me for more than a year, "Why didn't you publish the 
message hidden in the parchments? "His reply astounded me. 

"What message?" 

It seemed to me inconceivable that he was unaware of this elementary message. Why 

was he fencing with me? Suddenly I found myself reluctant to reveal exactly what I had 

found. We continued an elliptical verbal fencing match for a few minutes. It thus became 

apparent that we were both aware of the message. I repeated my question, "Why didn't 

you publish it?" This time de Sede's answer was calculated, "Because we thought it might 

interest someone like you to find it for yourself." 

That reply, as cryptic as the priest's mysterious documents, was the first clear hint that the 

mystery of RennesleChateau was to prove much more than a simple tale of lost treasure. 

With my director, Andrew Maxwell-Hyslop, I began to prepare a 

"Chronicle' film in the spring of 1 971 . It was planned as a simple 

twenty-minute item for a magazine programme. But as we worked de Sede 

began to feed us further fragments of information. First came the full 

text of a major encoded message, which spoke of the painters Poussin 

and Teniers. This was fascinating. The cipher was unbelievably 

complex. We were told it had been broken by experts of the French Army 

Cipher Department, using computers. As I studied the convolutions of the code, I became 

convinced that this explanation was, to say the least, suspect. I checked with cipher 

experts of British Intelligence. They agreed with me. "The cipher does not present a valid 

problem for a computer," The code was unbreakable. Someone, somewhere, must have 

the key. 

And then de Sede dropped his second bombshell. A tomb resembling that 

in Poussin's famous painting, "Les Bergers d'Arcadie', had been found. He 

would send details "as soon as he had them'. Some days later the 

photographs arrived, and it was clear that our short film on a small 

local mystery had begun to assume unexpected dimensions. Paul decided 

to abandon it and committed us to a full-length "Chronicle' film. Now 

there would be more time to research and more screen time to explore the story. 

Transmission was postponed to the spring of the following year. 

The Lost Treasure of Jerusalem? was screened in February 1972, and 

provoked a very strong reaction. I knew that I had found a subject of 

consuming interest not merely to myself, but to a very large viewing 

public. Further research would not be self-indulgence. At some time 

there would have to be a follow-up film. By 1974 I had a mass of new 

material and Paul assigned Roy Davies to produce my second "Chronicle' film, The Priest, 

the Painter and the Devil. Again the reaction of the public proved how much the story had 

caught the popular imagination. But by now it had grown so complex, so far reaching in 

its ramifications, that I knew the detailed research was rapidly exceeding the capabilities 

of any one person. There were too many different leads to follow. The more I pursued 

one line of investigation, the more conscious I became of the mass of material being 

neglected. It was at this daunting juncture that Chance, which had first tossed the story so 

casually into my lap, now made sure that the work would not become bogged down. 

In 1975, at a summer school where we were both lecturing on aspects of literature, I had 

the great good fortune to meet Richard Leigh. 

Richard is a novelist and short-story writer with post-graduate degrees 

in Comparative Literature and a deep knowledge of history, philosophy, psychology and 

esoterica. He had been working for some years as a university lecturer in the United 

States, Canada and Britain. 

Between our summer-school talks we spent many hours discussing subjects of mutual 

interest. I mentioned the Knights Templar, who had assumed an important role in the 

background to the mystery of Rennes-leChateau. 

To my delight, I found that this shadowy order of medieval 

warrior-monks had already awakened Richard's profound interest, and he 

had done considerable research into their history. At one stroke 

months of work which I had seen stretching ahead of me became 

unnecessary. Richard could answer most of my queries, and was as 


intrigued as I was by some of the apparent anomalies I had unearthed. 

More importantly, he too saw the fascination and sensed the 

significance of the whole research project on which I had embarked. He 

offered to help me with the aspect involving the Templars. And he 

brought in Michael Baigent, a psychology graduate who had recently abandoned a 

successful career in photo-journalism to devote his time to researching 

the Templars for a film project he had in mind. 

Had I set out to search for them, I could not have found two better qualified and more 
congenial partners with whom to form a team. After years of solitary labour the impetus 
brought to the project by two fresh brains was exhilarating. The first tangible result of our 
collaboration was the third "Chronicle' film on Rennes-leChateau, The Shadow of the 
Templars, which was produced by Roy Davies in 1979. 

The work which we did on that film at last brought us face to face with the underlying 

foundations upon which the entire mystery of Rennes-leChateau had been built. But the 

film could only hint at what we were beginning to discern. Beneath the surface was 

something more startling, more significant and more immediately relevant than we could 

have believed possible when we began our work on the "intriguing little mystery' of what a 

French priest might have found in a mountain village. 

In 1972 I closed my first film with the words, "Something extraordinary is waiting to be 

found .. . and in the not too distant future, it will be." 

This book explains what that 'something' is and how extraordinary the discovering has 




H.L. January 17 , 1981 Map 1 The Major Sites of Investigation in 




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One The Mystery 


1 Village of Mystery 

At the start of our search we did not know precisely what we were looking for or, for that 

matter, looking at. We had no theories and no hypotheses, we had set out to prove 

nothing. On the contrary, we were simply trying to find an explanation for a curious little 

enigma of the late nineteenth century. The conclusions we eventually reached were not 

postulated in advance. We were led to them, step by step, as if the evidence we 

accumulated had a mind of its own, was directing us of its own accord. 

We believed at first that we were dealing with a strictly local mystery 

an intriguing mystery certainly, but a mystery of essentially minor 

significance, confined to a village in the south of France. We 

believed at first that the mystery, although it involved many 

fascinating historical strands, was primarily of academic interest. We 

believed that our investigation might help to illumine certain aspects 

of Western history, but we never dreamed that it might entail 

re-writing them. Still less did we dream that whatever we discovered 

could be of any real contemporary relevance and explosive contemporary relevance at 


Our quest began -for it was indeed a quest with a more or less 
straightforward story. At first glance this story was not markedly 
different from numerous other "treasure stories' or "unsolved 
mysteries' which abound in the history and folklore of almost every 
rural region. A version of it had been publici sed in France, where it 
attracted considerable interest but was not to our knowledge at the 
time accorded any inordinate consequence. As we subsequently learned, 
there were a number of errors in this version. For the moment, 
however, we must recount the tale as it was published during the 1 960s, 


and as we first came to know of it." Rennes-leChateau and Berenger 


On June 1 st , 1885 the tiny French village of Rennes-leChateau received 

a new parish priest. The cure's name was Berenger Sauniere. z He was a 

robust, handsome, energetic and, it would seem, highly intelligent man 

aged thirty-three. In seminary school not long before he had seemed 

destined for a promising clerical career. Certainly he had seemed 

destined for something more important than a remote village in the 

eastern foothills of the 

Pyrenees. Yet at some point he seems to have incurred the displeasure of his superiors. 

What precisely he did, if anything, remains unclear, but it soon thwarted all prospects of 

advancement. And it was perhaps to rid themselves of him that' his superiors sent him to 

the parish of Rennes-leChateau. 

At the time Rennes-leChateau housed only two hundred people. It was a 

tiny hamlet perched on a steep mountaintop, approximately twenty-five 

miles from 


To another man, the place might have constituted exile a life sentence in a remote 
provincial backwater, far from the civilised amenities of the age, far from any stimulus for 
an eager and inquiring mind. No doubt it was a blow to Sauniere's ambition. 
Nevertheless there were certain compensations. Sauniere was a native of the region, 
having been born and raised only a few miles distant, in the village of Montazels. 
Whatever its deficiencies, therefore, Rennes-leChateau must have been very like home, 
with all the comforts of childhood familiarity. 

Between 1885 and 1891 Sauniere's income averaged, in francs, the equivalent of six 
pounds sterling per year -hardly opulence, but pretty much what one would expect for a 
rural cure in late nineteenth-century France. Together with gratuities provided by his 
parishioners, it appears to have been sufficient for survival, if not for any extravagance. 
During those six years Sauniere seems to have led a pleasant enough life, and a placid 

He hunted and fished in the mountains and streams of his boyhood. He 
read voraciously, perfected his Latin, learned Greek, embarked on the 
study of 

Hebrew. He employed, as housekeeper and servant, an eighteen-year old 
peasant girl named Marie Denarnaud, who was to be his lifelong 


companion and confidante. He paid frequent visits to his friend, the 

Abbe Henri Boudet, cure-of the neighbouring village of 

Rennes-les-Bains. And under Boudet's tutelage he immersed himself in the turbulent 

history of the region a history whose residues were constantly present around him. 

A few miles to the south-east of Rennes-leChateau, for example, looms 

another peak, called Bezu, surmounted by the ruins of a medieval 

fortress, which was once a preceptory of the Knights Templar. On a 

third peak, a mile or so east of Rennes-leChateau, stand the ruins of 

the chateau of 

Blanchefort, ancestral home of Bertrand de Blanchefort, fourth Grand 

Master of the Knights Templar, who presided over that famous order in 

the mid-twelfth century. Rennes-leChateau and its environs had been on 

the ancient pilgrim route, which ran from Northern Europe to Santiago 


Compastela in Spain. And the entire region was steeped in evocative 

legends, in echoes of a rich, dramatic and often bloodsoaked past, 

For some time Sauniere had wanted to restore the village church of 

Rennes-leChateau. Consecrated to the Magdalene in 1059, this dilapidated edifice stood 

on the foundations of a still older Visigoth structure dating from the sixth century. By the 

late nineteenth century it was, not surprisingly, in a state of almost hopeless disrepair. 

In 1891, encouraged by his friend Boudet, Sauniere embarked on a modest 

restoration, borrowing a small sum from the village funds. In the 

course of his endeavours he removed the altar-stone, which rested on 

two archaic 

Visigoth columns. 

One of these columns proved to be hollow. Inside 

the cure found four parchments preserved in sealed wooden tubes. Two 

of these parchments are said to have comprised genealogies, one dating 

from 1244, the other from 1644. The two remaining documents had 

apparently been composed in the 1780s by one of Sauniere's predecessors 

as cure of 

Rennes-leChateau, the Abbe Antoine Bigou. Bigou had also been personal 

chaplain to the noble Blanchefort family who, on the eve of the 


Revolution, were still among the most prominent local landowners. 

The two parchments from Bigou's time would appear to be pious Latin 

texts, excerpts from the New Testament. At least ostensibly. But on 

one of the parchments the words are run incoherently together, with no 


space between them, and a number of utterly superfluous letters have 

been inserted. And on the second parchment lines are indiscriminately 

truncated unevenly, sometimes in the middle of a word while certain 

letters are conspicuously raised above the others. In reality these 

parchments comprise a sequence of ingenious ciphers or codes. Some of 

them are fantastically complex and unpredictable, defying even a 

computer, and insoluble without the requisite key. The following 

decipherment has appeared in French works devoted to 

Rennes-leChateau, and in two of our films on the subject made for the 











But if some of the ciphers are daunting in their complexity, others are patently, even 

flagrantly obvious. In the second parchment, for instance, the raised letters, taken in 

sequence, spell out a coherent message. 





Although this particular message must have been discernible to Sauniere, it is doubtful 

that he could have deciphered the more intricate codes. 

Nevertheless, he realised he had stumbled upon something of consequence 

and, with the consent of the village mayor, brought his discovery to 

his superior, the bishop of Carcassonne. How much the bishop 

understood is unclear, but Sauniere was immediately dispatched to Paris 

at the bishop's expense with instructions to present himself and the 

parchments to certain important ecclesiastic authorities. Chief among 

these were the Abbe 

Bieil, Director General of the Seminary of Saint Sulpice, and Bieil's nephew, Emile Hoffet. 

At the time Hoffet was training for the priesthood. 

Although still in his early twenties, he had already established an 


impressive reputation for scholarship, especially in linguistics, 

cryptography and palaeography. Despite his pastoral vocation, he was 

known to be immersed in esoteric thought, and maintained cordial 

relations with the various occult-oriented groups, sects and secret 

societies which were proliferating in the French capital. This had 

brought him into contact with an illustrious cultural circle, which 

included such literary figures as Stephane Mallarme and Maurice 

Maeterlinck, as well as the composer Claude Debussy. He also knew Emma 

Calve, who, at the time of 

Sauniere's appearance, had just returned from triumphant performances 


London and Windsor. 

As a diva, Emma Calve was the Maria Callas of her age. 

At the same time she was a high priestess of Parisian esoteric sub-culture, and sustained 

amorous liaisons with a number of influential occultists. 

Having presented himself to Bieil and Hoffet, Sauniere spent three 

weeks in 

Paris. What transpired during his meetings with the ecclesiastics is unknown. What is 

known is that the provincial country priest was promptly and warmly welcomed into 

Hoffet's distinguished circle. It has even been asserted that he became Emma Calves 

lover. Contemporary gossips spoke of an affair between them, and one acquaintance of 

the singer described her as being "obsessed' with the cure. In any case there is no 

question but that they enjoyed a close enduring friendship. In the years that followed she 

visited him frequently in the vicinity of Rennes-leChateau, where, until recently, one could 

still find romantic hearts carved into the rocks of the mountainside, bearing their initials. 

During his stay in Paris, Sauniere also spent some time in the Louvre. 

This may well be connected with the fact that, before his departure, he 

purchased reproductions of three paintings. One seems to have been a 

portrait, by an unidentified artist, of Pope Celestin V, who reigned 

briefly at the end of the thirteenth century. One was a work by 


Teniers although it is not clear which David Teniers, father or son. 3 The third was perhaps 

the most famous tableau by Nicolas Poussin, "Les Bergers d'Arcadie' - "The Shepherds of 


On his return to Rennes-leChateau, Sauniere resumed his restoration of 

the village church. In the process he exhumed a curiously carved 

flagstone, dating from the seventh or eighth century, which may have 


had a crypt beneath it, a burial chamber in which skeletons were said 

to have been found. Sauniere also embarked on projects of a rather 

more singular kind. In the churchyard, for example, stood the 

sepulchre of Marie, Marquise d'Hautpoul de Blanchefort. The headstone 

and flagstone marking her grave had been designed and installed by the 

Abbe Antoine Bigou - Sauniere's predecessor of a century before, who 

had apparently composed two of the mysterious parchments. And the 

headstone's inscription which included a number of deliberate errors in 

spacing and spelling was a perfect anagram for the message concealed in 

the parchments referring to Poussin and 

Teniers. If one rearranges the letters, they will form the cryptic statement quoted above 

alluding to Poussin and to Sion (see p. 26); and the errors seem to have been contrived 

precisely to make them do so. 

Not knowing that the inscriptions on the marquise's tomb had already 

been copied, Sauniere obliterated them. Nor was this desecration the 

only curious behaviour he exhibited. Accompanied by his faithful 

housekeeper, he began to make long journeys on foot about the 

countryside, collecting rocks of no apparent value or interest. He 

also embarked on a voluminous exchange of letters with unknown 

correspondents throughout France, as well as in 

Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Spain. He took to collecting stacks of utterly 

worthless postage stamps. And he opened certain shadowy transactions with various 

banks. One of them even dispatched a representative from Paris, who travelled all the 

way to Rennes-leChateau for the sole purpose of ministering to Sauniere's business. 

In postage alone Sauniere was already spending a substantial sum more than his 

previous annual income could possibly sustain. Then, in 1896, he began to spend in 

earnest, on a staggering and unprecedented scale. By the end of his life in 1917 his 

expenditure would amount to the equivalent of several million pounds at least. 

Some of this unexplained wealth was devoted to laudable public works a 

modern road was built leading up to the village, for example, and 

facilities for running water were provided. Other expenditures were 

more quixotic. A tower was built, the Tour Magdala, overlooking the 

called the Villa 


Bethania, which Sauniere himself never occupied. And the church was 

not only redecorated, but redecorated in a most bizarre fashion. A Latin inscription was 

incised in the porch lintel above the entrance: 



Immediately inside the entrance a hideous statue was erected, a gaudy 

representation of the demon Asmodeus -custodian of secrets, guardian of 

hidden treasures and, according to ancient Judaic legend, builder of 

Solomon's Temple. On the church walls lurid, garishly painted plaques were installed 

depicting the Stations of the Cross each was characterised by some odd inconsistency, 

some inexplicable added detail, some flagrant or subtle deviation from accepted Scriptural 

account. In Station VIII for example, there is a child swathed in a Scottish plaid. In 

Station XIV, which portrays Jesus's body being carried into the tomb, there is a 

background of dark nocturnal sky, dominated by a full moon. It is almost as if Sauniere 

were trying to intimate something. But what? That Jesus's burial occurred after nightfall, 

several hours later than the Bible tells us it did? Or that the body is being carried out of 

the tomb, not into it? 

While engaged in this curious adornment, Sauniere continued to spend extravagantly. He 

collected rare china, precious fabrics, antique marbles. 

He created an orangery and a zoological garden. He assembled a magnificent library. 

Shortly before his death, he was allegedly planning to build a massive Babel-like tower 

lined with books, from which he intended to preach. Nor were his parishioners neglected. 

Sauniere regaled them with sumptuous banquets and other forms of 

largesse, maintaining the life-style of a medieval potentate presiding 

over an impregnable mountain domain. In his remote and well-nigh 

inaccessible eyrie he received a number of notable guests. One, of 

course, was Emma Calve. One was the French Secretary of 

State for Culture. But perhaps the most august and consequential 

visitor to the unknown country priest was the Archduke Johann von 

Habsburg, a cousin of Franz-Josef, Emperor of Austria. Bank statements 

subsequently revealed that Sauniere and the archduke had opened 


consecutive accounts on the same day, and that the latter had made a 
substantial sum over to the former. 

The ecclesiastical authorities at first turned a blind eye. When Sauniere's former superior 
at Carcassonne died, however, the new bishop attempted to call the priest to account. 
Sauniere responded with startling and brazen defiance. He refused to explain his wealth. 
He refused to accept the transfer the bishop ordered. Lacking any more substantial 
charge, the bishop accused him of simony -illicitly selling masses and a local tribunal 
suspended him. Sauniere appealed to the Vatican, which exonerated and reinstated him. 
On January 17 th , 1917, Sauniere, then in his sixty-fifth year, suffered a sudden stroke. 
The date of January 17 th is perhaps suspicious. The same date appears on the 
tombstone of the Marquise d'Hautpoul de Blanchefort -the tombstone Sauniere had 
eradicated. And January 17 th is also the feast day of Saint Sulpice, who, as we were to 
discover, figured throughout our story. It was at the Seminary of Saint Sulpice that he 
confided his parchments to the Abbe Bieil and tmile Hoffet. But what makes Sauniere's 
stroke on January 1 7 th most suspicious is the fact that five days before, on January 1 2 th , 
his parishioners declared that he had seemed to be in enviable health for a man of his 
age. Yet on January 12 th , according to a receipt in our possession, Marie Denarnaud had 
ordered a coffin for her master. 

As Sauniere lay on his deathbed, a priest was called from a neighbouring parish to hear 
his final confession and administer the last rites. The priest duly arrived and retired into 
the sick-room. According to eye-witness testimony, he emerged shortly thereafter, visibly 
shaken. In the words of one account he "never smiled again'. In the words of another he 
lapsed into an acute depression that lasted for several months. Whether these accounts 
are exaggerated or not, the priest, presumably on the basis of Sauniere's confession, 
refused to administer extreme unction. 

On January 22 nd Sauniere died un shriven The following morning his 
body was placed upright in an armchair on the terrace of the Tour 
Magdala, clad in an ornate robe adorned with scarlet tassels. One by 


one, certain unidentified mourners filed past, many of them Map 2 

Rennes-leChiteau and its Environs 





"POVI71D1 tomb' 




kB ~~ l/'o P4oLE Bezu 



plucking tassels of remembrance from the dead man's garment. There 

has never been any explanation of this ceremony. Present-day residents 


Rennes-leChateau are as mystified by it as everyone else. 

The reading of Sauniere's will was awaited with great anticipation. To everyone's surprise 

and chagrin, however, it declared him to be utterly penniless. At some point before his 

death he had apparently transferred the whole of his wealth to Marie Denarnaud, who had 

shared his life and secrets for thirty-two years. Or perhaps most of that wealth had been 

in Marie's name from the very beginning. 

Following the death of her master, Marie continued to live a comfortable life in the Villa 

Bethania until 1946. After the Second World War, however, the newly installed French 

government issued a new currency. As a means of apprehending tax-evaders, 

collaborators and wartime profiteers, French citizens, when exchanging old francs for new, 

were obliged to account for their revenues. Confronted by the prospect of an explanation, 

Marie chose poverty. She was seen in the garden of the villa, burning vast sheaves of old 

franc notes. 

For the next seven years Marie lived austerely, supporting herself on 

money obtained from the sale of Villa Bethania. She promised the 


Monsieur Noel Corbu, that she would confide to him, before her death, a "secret' which 

would make him not only rich but also "powerful'. On January 29 th , 1953, however, Marie, 

like her master before her, suffered a sudden and unexpected stroke which left her 

prostrate on her deathbed, incapable of speech. To Monsieur Corbu's intense frustration, 

she died shortly thereafter, carrying her secret with her. 

The Possible Treasures 

This, in its general outlines, was the story published in France during the 1960s. This was 

the form in which we first became acquainted with it. And it was to the questions raised by 

the story in this form that we, like other researchers of the subject, addressed ourselves. 


The first question is fairly obvious. What was the source of 

Sauni&re's money? Whence could such sudden and enormous wealth have come? Was 

the explanation ultimately banal? Or was there something more exciting involved? The 

latter possibility imparted a tantalising quality to the mystery, and we could not resist the 

impulse to play detectives. 

We began by considering the explanations suggested by other researchers. 

According to many of these, Sauniere had indeed found a treasure of some kind. This 

was a plausible enough assumption, for the history of the village and its environs includes 

many possible sources of hidden gold or jewels. 

In prehistoric times, for example, the area around Rennes-leChateau was regarded as a 

sacred site by the Celtic tribes who lived there; and the village itself, once called Rhedae, 

derived its name from one of these tribes. In Roman times the area was a large and 

thriving community, important for its mines and therapeutic hot springs. And the Romans, 

too, regarded the site as sacred. Later researchers have found traces of several pagan 


During the sixth century, the little mountain-top village was 

supposedly a town with 30,000 inhabitants. At one point it seems to 

have been the northern capital of the empire ruled by the Visigoths the 

Teutonic people who had swept westwards from Central Europe, sacked 

Rome, toppled the Roman 

Empire and established their own domain straddling the Pyrenees. 

For another five hundred years the town remained the seat of an 

important county, or comte, the Comte of Razes. Then, at the beginning 

of the thirteenth century, an army of northern knights descended on the 

Languedoc to stamp out the Cathar or Albigensian heresy and claim the 

rich spoils of the region for themselves. During the atrocities of the 


Albigensian Crusade, Rennes-leChateau was captured and transferred from hand to hand 

as a fief. A century and a quarter later, in the 1360s, the local population was decimated 

by plague; and Rennes-leChateau was destroyed shortly thereafter by roving Catalan 


Tales of fantastic treasure are interwoven with many of these 

historical vicissitudes. The Cathar heretics, for example, were 


reputed to possess something of fabulous and even sacred value which, 

according to a number of legends, was the 

Holy Grail. These legends reportedly impelled Richard Wagner to make a 

pilgrimage to RennesleChateau before composing his last opera, 

Parsifal; and during the occupation of 1940-45 German troops, following 

in Wagner's wake, are said to have undertaken a number of fruitless 

excavations in the vicinity. There was also the vanished treasure of 

the Knights Templar, whose 

Grand Master, Bertrand de Blanchefort, commissioned certain mysterious excavations in 

the vicinity. According to all accounts, these excavations were of a markedly clandestine 

nature, performed by a specially imported contingent of German miners. If some kind of 

Templar treasure were indeed concealed around Rennes-leChateau, this might explain 

the reference to "Sion' in the parchments discovered by Sauniere. 

There were other possible treasures as well. Between the fifth and 

dynasty, which included King Dagobert II. Rennes-leChateau, in 

Dagobert's time, was a 

Visigoth bastion, and Dagobert himself was married to a Visigoth princess. 

The town might have constituted a sort of royal treasury; and there are 

documents which speak of great wealth amassed by Dagobert for military 

conquest and concealed in the environs of Rennes-leChateau. If 

Sauniere discovered some such depository, it would explain the 

reference in the codes to Dagobert. 

The Cathars. The Templars. Dagobert II. And there was yet another possible treasure 
the vast booty accumulated by the Visigoths during their tempestuous advance through 
Europe. This might have included something more than conventional booty, possibly 
items of immense relevance both symbolic and literal to Western religious tradition. It 
might, in short, have included the legendary treasure of the Temple of Jerusalem which, 
even more than the Knights Templar, would warrant the references to "Sion'. 
In A.D. 66 Palestine rose in revolt against the Roman yoke. Four years 
later, in A.D. 70, Jerusalem was razed by the legions of the emperor, 
under the command of his son, Titus. The Temple itself was sacked and 
the contents of the Holy of Holies carried back to Rome. As they are 


depicted on Titus's triumphal arch, these included the immense gold 

seven-branched candelabrum so sacred to Judaism, and possibly even the Ark of the 


Three and a half centuries later, in A.D. 410, Rome in her turn was 

sacked by the invading Visigoths under Alaric the Great, who pillaged 

virtually the entire wealth of the Eternal City. As the historian 

Procopius tells us, 

Alaric made off with "the treasures of Solomon, the King of the 

Hebrews, a sight most worthy to be seen, for they were adorned in the 

most part with emeralds and in the olden time they had been taken from 

Jerusalem by the 

Romans. "5 

Treasure, then, may well have been the source of Sauniere's unexplained 

wealth. The priest may have discovered any of several treasures, or he 

may have discovered a single treasure which repeatedly changed hands 

through the centuries passing perhaps from the Temple of Jerusalem, to 


Romans, to the Visigoths, eventually to the Cathars and/or the 


Templar. If this were so, it would explain why the treasure in question "belonged' both to 

Dagobert II and to Sion. 

Thus far our story seemed to be essentially a treasure story. And a treasure story even 

one involving the treasure of the Temple of Jerusalem is ultimately of limited relevance 

and significance. People are constantly discovering treasures of one kind or another. 

Such discoveries are often exciting, dramatic and mysterious, and many of them cast 

important illumination on the past. Few of them, however, exercise any direct influence, 

political or otherwise, on the present unless, of course, the treasure in question includes a 

secret of some sort, and possibly an explosive one. 

We did not discount the argument that Sauniere discovered treasure. At 

the same time it seemed clear to us that, whatever else he discovered, 

he also discovered a secret an historical secret of immense import to 

his own time and perhaps to our own as well. Mere money, gold or 

jewels would not, in themselves, explain a number of facets to his 

story. They would not account for his introduction to Hoffet's circle, 

for instance, his association with Debussy and his liaison with Emma 

Calve. They would not explain the Church's intense interest in the 

matter, the impunity with which Sauniere defied his bishop or his 

subsequent exoneration by the 


Vatican, which seemed to have displayed an urgent concern of its own. 

They would not explain a priest's refusal to administer the last rites 

to a dying man, or the visit of a Habsburg archduke to a remote little 

village in the Pyrenees. The Habsburg archduke in question has since 

been revealed as Johann Salvator von Habsburg, known by the pseudonym 

of Jean 

Orth. He renounced all his rights and titles in 1889 and within two months had been 

banished from all the territories of the Empire. It was shortly after this that he first 

appeared in Rennes le Chateau. 

Said officially to have died in 1890 but in fact died in Argentina in 

1910 or 1911. See Les 

Maisons Souveraines de L'Autriche by Dr. Dugast ROullle, Paris, 1967, page 191. Nor 

would money, gold or jewels explain the powerful aura of mystification surrounding the 

whole affair, from the elaborate coded ciphers to Marie Denarnaud burning her inheritance 

of banknotes. And Marie herself had promised to divulge a 'secret' which conferred not 

merely wealth but 'power' as well. 

On these grounds we grew increasingly convinced that Sauniere's story 

involved more than riches, and that it involved a secret of some kind, 

one that was almost certainly controversial. In other words it seemed 

to us that the mystery was not confined to a remote backwater village 

and nineteenth-century priest. Whatever it was, it appeared to radiate 

out from 

Rennes-leChateau and produce ripples perhaps even a potential tidal wave in the world 

beyond. Could Sauniere's wealth have come not from anything of intrinsic financial value, 

but from knowledge of some kind? If so, could this knowledge have been turned to fiscal 

account? Could it have been used to blackmail somebody, for example? Could 

Sauniere's wealth have been his payment for silence? 

We knew that he had received money from Johann von Habsburg. At the 

same time, however, the priest's 'secret', whatever it was, seemed to 

be more religious in nature than political. Moreover, his relations 

with the 

Austrian archduke, according to all accounts, were notably cordial. On 

later career, seems to have been distinctly afraid of him, and to have 

treated him with kid gloves the Vatican. Could Sauniere have been 

blackmailing the Vatican? Granted such blackmail would be a 


presumptuous and dangerous undertaking for one man, however exhaustive 

his precautions. But what if he were aided and supported in his 

enterprise by others, whose eminence rendered them inviolable to the 

church, like the French Secretary of State for Culture, or the 

Habsburgs? What if the Archduke Johann were only an intermediary, and 

the money he bestowed on Sauniere actually issued from the coffers of 


The Intrigue 

In February 1972 The Lost Treasure of Jerusalem?" the first of our three films on 

Sauniere and the mystery of Rennes-leChateau, was shown. 

The film made no controversial assertions, it simply told the 'basic 

story' as it has been recounted in the preceding pages, Nor was there 

any speculation about an 'explosive secret' or highlevel blackmail. It 

is also worth mentioning that the film did not cite smile Hoffet the 

young clerical scholar in 

Paris to whom Sauniere confided his parchments by name. 

Not surprisingly perhaps, we received a veritable deluge of mail. Some of it offered 

intriguing speculative suggestions. Some of it was complimentary. Some of it was dotty. 

Of all these letters, one, which the writer did not wish us to publicise, seemed to warrant 

special attention. 

It came from a retired Anglican priest and seemed a curious and provocative non sequitur. 

Our correspondent wrote with categorical certainty and authority. He made his assertions 

baldly and definitively, with no elaboration, and with apparent indifference as to whether 

we believed him or not. The 'treasure', he declared flatly, did not involve gold or precious 

stones. On the contrary, it consisted of 'incontrovertible proof that the Crucifixion was a 

fraud and that Jesus was alive as late as A.D. 45. 

This claim sounded flagrantly absurd. What, even to a convinced 

atheist, could possibly comprise 'incontrovertible proof that Jesus 

survived the 

Crucifixion? We were unable to imagine anything which could not be 

disbelieved or repudiated which would not only comprise 'proof, but 

'proof that was truly 'incontrovertible'. At the same time the sheer 


extravagance of the assertion begged for clarification and 

elaboration. The writer of the letter had provided a return address. At the earliest 

opportunity we drove to see him and attempted to interview him. 

In person he was rather more reticent than he had been in his letter, 

and seemed to regret having written to us in the first place. He 

refused to expand upon his reference to "incontrovertible proof and 

volunteered only one additional fragment of information. This "proof, 

he said, or its existence at any rate, had been divulged to him by 

another Anglican cleric, 

Canon Alfred Leslie Liney. 

Liney, who died in 1940, had published widely and was not unknown. 

During much of his life he had maintained contacts with the Catholic 


Movement, based primarily at Saint Sulpice in Paris. In his youth Liney had worked in 

Paris, and had been acquainted with Emile Hoffet. 

The trail had come full circle. Given a connection between Liney and 

Hoffet, the claims of the priest, however preposterous, could not be 

summarily dismissed. Similar evidence of a monumental secret was 

forthcoming when we began to research the life of Nicolas Poussin, the 

great seventeenth-century painter whose name recurred throughout 

Sauniere's story. In 1 656 Poussin, who was living in Rome at the time, 

had received a visit from the Abbe Louis Fouquet, brother of Nicolas 


Superintendent of Finances to Louis XIV of France. From Rome, the abbe dispatched a 

letter to his brother, describing his meeting with Poussin. 

Part of this letter is worth quoting. 

He and I discussed certain things, which I shall with ease be able to 

explain to you in detail things which will give you, through Monsieur 

Poussin, advantages which even kings would have great pains to draw from him, and 

which, according to him, it is possible that nobody else will ever rediscover in the centuries 

to come. And what is more, these are things so difficult to discover that nothing now on 

this earth can prove of better fortune nor be their equal.? 

Neither historians nor biographers of Poussin or Fouquet have ever been 

able satisfactorily to explain this letter, which clearly alludes to 


some mysterious matter of immense import. Not long after receiving 

it, Nicolas Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for the duration of his life. According to 

certain accounts, he was held strictly incommunicado and some historians regard him as 

a likely candidate for the Man in the Iron Mask. In the meantime the whole of his 

correspondence was confiscated by Louis XIV, who inspected all of it personally. In the 

years that followed the king went determinedly out of his way to obtain the original of 

Poussin's painting, "Les Bergers d'Arcadie'. 

When he at last succeeded it was sequestered in his private apartments 



Whatever its artistic greatness, the painting would seem to be innocent 

enough. In the foreground three shepherds and a shepherdess are 

gathered about a large antique tomb, contemplating the inscription in 

the weathered stone: "ET IN ARCADIA EGO'. In the background looms a 

rugged, mountainous landscape of the sort generally associated with 

Poussin. According to 

Anthony Blunt, as well as other Poussin experts, this landscape was wholly mythical, a 

product of the painter's imagination. In the early 1970s, however, an actual tomb was 

located, identical to the one in the painting identical in setting, dimensions, proportions, 

shape, surrounding vegetation, even in the circular outcrop of rock on which one of 

Poussin's shepherds rests his foot. This actual tomb stands on the outskirts of a village 

called Arques -approximately six miles from Rennes-leChateau, and three miles from the 

chateau of Blanchefort. If one stands before the sepulchre the vista is virtually 

indistinguishable from that in the painting. And then it becomes apparent that one of the 

peaks in the background of the painting is Rennes-leChateau. 

There is no indication of the age of the tomb. It may, of course, have been erected quite 

recently but how did its builders ever locate a setting which matches so precisely that of 

the painting? In fact it would seem to have been standing in Poussin's time, and "Les 

Bergers d'Arcadie' would seem to be a faithful rendering of the actual site. 

According to the peasants in the vicinity, the tomb has been there for 

as long as they, their parents and grandparents can remember. And 

there is said to be specific mention of it in a memoire dating from 


1709.8 According to records in the village of Arques, the land on 

which the tomb starts belonged, until his death in the 1950s, to an 

American, one Louis 

Lawrence of Boston, Massachusetts. In the 1920s Mr. Lawrence opened the sepulchre 

and found it empty. His wife and mother-in-law were later buried in it. 

When preparing the first of our BBC films on Rennes-leChateau, we spent a morning 

shooting footage of the tomb. We broke off for lunch and returned some three hours later. 

During our absence, a crude and violent attempt had been made to smash into the 


If there was once an inscription on the actual tomb, it had long since been weathered 

away. As for the inscription on the tomb in Poussin's painting, it would seem to be 

conventionally elegiac Death announcing his sombre presence even in Arcadia, the idyllic 

pastoral paradise of classical myth. 

And yet the inscription is curious because it lacks a verb. Literally translated, it reads: 


Why should the verb be missing? Perhaps for a philosophical reason to preclude all 

tense, all indication of past, present or future, and thereby to imply something eternal? Or 

perhaps for a reason of a more practical nature. 

The codes in the parchments found by Sauniere had relied heavily on 

anagrams, on the transposition and rearrangement of letters. Could 



ARCADIA EGO' also perhaps be an anagram? Could the verb have been omitted so that 

the inscription would consist only of certain precise letters? One of our television viewers, 

in writing to us, suggested that this might indeed be so and then rearranged the letters into 

a coherent Latin statement. The result was: 



We were pleased and intrigued by this ingenious exercise. We did not 

realise at the time how extraordinarily appropriate the resulting 


admonition was. 2 The Cathars and the Great Heresy 

We began our investigation at a point with which we already had a 

certain familiarity the Cathar or Albigensian heresy and the crusade it 

provoked in the thirteenth century. We were already aware that the 

Cathars figured somehow in the mystery surrounding Sauniere and 

Rennes-leChateau. In the first place the medieval heretics had been 

numerous in the village and its environs, which suffered brutally 

during the course of the Albigensian 

Crusade. Indeed, the whole history of the region is soaked in Cathar blood, and the 

residues of that blood, along with much bitterness, persist to the present day. Many 

peasants in the area now, with no inquisitors 1o fall upon them, openly proclaim Cathar 

sympathies. There is even a Cathar church and a so-called "Cathar pope' who, until his 

death in 1 978, lived in the village of Arques. 

We knew that Sauniere had immersed himself in the history and folklore of his native soil, 

so he could not possibly have avoided contact with Cathar thought and traditions. He 

could not have been unaware that RennesleChateau was an important town in the twelfth 

and thirteenth centuries, and something of a Cathar bastion. 

Sauniere must also have been familiar with the numerous legends attached to the 

Cathars. He must have known of the rumours connecting them with that fabulous object, 

the Holy Grail. And if Richard Wagner, in quest of something pertaining to the Grail, did 

indeed visit Rennes-leChateau, Sauniere could not have been ignorant of that fact either. 

In 1890, moreover, a man named Jules Doinel became librarian at 

Carcassonne and established a neo-Cathar church." Doinel himself wrote 

prolifically on 

Cathar thought, and by 1896 had become a prominent member of a local cultural 

organisation, the Society of Arts and Sciences of Carcassonne. 


In 1898 he was elected its 41 secretary. This society included a 

number of Sauniere's associates, among them his best friend, the Abbe Henri Boudet. 

And Doinel's own personal circle included Emma Calve. 

It is therefore very probable that Doinel and 

Sauniere were acquainted. 

There is a further, and more provocative, reason for linking the 

Cathars with the mystery of Rennes-leChateau. In one of the parchments 

found by 

Sauniere, the text is sprinkled with a handful of small letters eight, to be precise quite 

deliberately different from all the others. Three of the letters are towards the top of the 

page, five towards the bottom. These eight letters have only to be read in sequence for 

them to spell out two words "REX IvtuNDt'. This is unmistakably a Cathar term, which is 

immediately recognisable to anyone familiar with Cathar thought. 

Given these factors, it seemed reasonable enough to commence our investigation with the 

Cathars. We therefore began to research into them, their beliefs and traditions, their 

history and milieu in detail. Our inquiry opened new dimensions of mystery, and 

generated a number of tantalising questions. 

The Albigensian Crusade 

In 1209 an army of some 30,000 knights and foot-soldiers from Northern Europe 

descended like a whirlwind on the Languedoc the mountainous north-eastern foothills of 

the Pyrenees in what is now southern France. In the ensuing war the whole territory was 

ravaged, crops were destroyed, towns and cities were razed, a whole population was put 

to the sword. This extermination occurred on so vast, so terrible a scale that it may well 

constitute the first case of "genocide' in modern European history. In the town of Beziers 

alone, for example, at least 15,000 men, women and children were slaughtered wholesale 

many of them in the sanctuary of the church itself. When an officer inquired of the pope's 

representative how he might distinguish heretics from true believers, the reply was, "Kill 

them all. God will recognise His own." 

This quotation, though widely reported, may be apocryphal Nevertheless, 


it typifies the fanatical zeal and bloodlust with which the atrocities 

were perpetrated. The Map 3 The Languedoc of the Cathars 
















same papal representative, writing to Innocent III in Rome, announced proudly that 

"neither age nor sex nor status was spared'. 

After Beziers, the invading army swept through the whole of the Languedoc. 

Perpignan fell, Narbonne fell, Carcassonne fell, Toulouse fell. And, wherever the victors 

passed, they left a trail of blood, death and carnage in their wake. 

This war, which lasted for nearly forty years, is now known as the 

Albigensian Crusade. It was a crusade in the true sense of the word. It had been called 

by the pope himself. Its participants wore a cross on their tunics, like crusaders in 

Palestine. And the rewards were the same as they were for crusaders in the Holy Land 

remission of all sins, an expiation of penances, an assured place in Heaven and all the 

booty one could plunder. In this Crusade, moreover, one did not even have to cross the 


And in accordance with feudal law, one was obliged to fight for no more than forty days 

assuming, of course, that one had no interest in plunder. 


By the time the Crusade was over, the Languedoc had been utterly 
transformed, plunged back into the barbarity that characterised the 
rest of 

Europe. Why? For what had all this havoc, brutality and devastation occurred? 
At the beginning of the thirteenth century the area now known as the 
Languedoc was not officially a part of France. It was an independent 
principality, whose language, culture and political institutions had 
less in common with the north than they had with Spain with the 
kingdoms of 

Leon, Aragon and Castile. The principality was ruled by a handful of noble families, chief 
of whom were the counts of Toulouse and the powerful house of Trencavel. And within 
the confines of this principality, there flourished a culture which, at the time, was the most 
advanced and sophisticated in Christendom, with the possible exception of Byzantium. 
The Languedoc had much in common with Byzantium. Learning, for example, was highly 
esteemed, as it was not in Northern Europe. Philosophy and other intellectual activities 
flourished; poetry and courtly love were extolled; 
Greek, Arabic; and Hebrew were enthusiastically studied; and at Lunel 

Narbonne, schools devoted to the Cabala the ancient esoteric tradition 

Judaism -were thriving. Even the nobility was literate and literary, at a time when most 
Northern nobles could not even sign their names. 
Like Byzantium, too, the Languedoc practised a civilised, easy-going 
religious tolerance in contrast to the fanatical zeal that 
characterised other parts of Europe. Skeins of Islamic and Judaic 
thought, for instance, were imported through maritime commercial 
centres like Marseilles, or made their way across the Pyrenees from 
Spain. At the same time, the Roman 

Church enjoyed no very high esteem; Roman clerics in the Languedoc, by virtue of their 
notorious corruption, succeeded primarily in alienating the populace. There were 
churches, for example, in which no mass had been said for more than thirty years. Many 
priests ignored their parishioners and ran businesses or large estates. One archbishop of 
Narbonne never even visited his diocese. 

Whatever the corruption of the church, the Languedoc had reached an 
apex of culture that would not be seen in Europe again until the 


Renaissance. But, as in Byzantium, there were elements of 

complacency, decadence and tragic weakness which rendered the region 

unprepared for the onslaught subsequently unleashed upon it. For some 

time both the Northern European nobility and the Roman Church had been 

aware of its vulnerability, and were eager to exploit it. The 

Northern nobility had for many years coveted the wealth and luxury of 


Languedoc. And the Church was interested for its own reasons. In the first place its 

authority in the region was slack. And while culture flourished in the Languedoc, 

something else flourished as well the major heresy of medieval Christendom. 

In the words of Church authorities the Languedoc was "infected' by 


Albigensian heresy, 'the foul leprosy of the South'. And although the 

adherents of this heresy were essentially non-violent, they constituted 

a severe threat to Roman authority, the most severe threat, indeed, 

that Rome would experience until three centuries later when teachings 

of Martin 

Luther began the Reformation. By 1200 there was a very real prospect 

of this heresy displacing Roman Catholicism as the dominant form of 

Christianity in the Languedoc. And what was more ominous still in 


Church's eyes, it was already radiating out to other parts of Europe, especially to urban 

centres in Germany, Flanders and Champagne. 

The heretics were known by a variety of names. In 1 1 65 they had been condemned by an 

ecclesiastical council at the Languedoc town of Albi. 

For this reason, or perhaps because Albi continued to be one of their 

centres, they were often called Albigensians. On other occasions they 

were called 

Cathars or Cathares or Cathari. In Italy they were called Patarines. Not infrequently they 

were also branded or stigmatised with the names of much earlier heresies Arian, 

Marcionite and Manichaean. "Albigensian' and "Cathar' were essentially generic names. 

In other words they did not refer to a single coherent church, like that of Rome, with a 

fixed, codified and definitive body of doctrine and theology. The heretics in question 

comprised a multitude of diverse sects many under the direction of an independent leader, 

whose followers would assume his name. 

And while these sects may have held to certain common principles, they 


diverged radically from one another in detail. Moreover, much of our 

information about the heretics derives from ecclesiastical sources like 

the Inquisition. To form a picture of them from such sources is like 

trying to form a picture of, say, the French Resistance from the 

reports of the SS and Gestapo. It is therefore virtually impossible to 

present a coherent and definitive summary of what actually 


"Cathar thought'. 

In general the Cathars subscribed to a doctrine of reincarnation and to 

a recognition of the feminine principle in religion. Indeed, the 

preachers and teachers of Cathar congregations, known as parfaits 

("perfected ones'), were of both sexes. At the same time, the Cathars 

rejected the orthodox 

Catholic Church and denied the validity of all clerical hierarchies, or 

official and ordained intercessors between man and God. At the core of 

this position lay an important Cathar tenet the repudiation of "faith', 

at least as the Church insisted on it. In the place of 'faith' 

accepted at second hand, the Cathars insisted on direct and personal 

knowledge, a religious or mystical experience apprehended at first 

hand. This experience had been called "gnosis', from the Greek word 

for 'knowledge', and for the 

Cathars it took precedence over all creeds and dogma. Given such an emphasis on direct 

personal contact with God, priests, bishops and other clerical authorities became 


The Cathars were also dualists. All Christian thought, of course, can ultimately be seen 

as dualistic, insisting on a conflict between two opposing principles good and evil, spirit 

and flesh, higher and lower. 

But the Cathars carried this dichotomy much further than orthodox 

Catholicism was prepared to. For the Cathars, men were the swords that spirits fought 

with, and no one saw the hands. For them, a perpetual war was being waged throughout 

the whole of creation between two irreconcilable principles -light and darkness, spirit and 

matter, good and evil. 

Catholicism posits one supreme God, whose adversary, the Devil, is ultimately inferior to 

Him. The Cathars, however, proclaimed the existence not of one god, but of two, with 

more or less comparable status. One of these gods the 'good' one was entirely 

disincarnate, a being or principle of pure spirit, unsullied by the taint of matter. 

He was the god of love. But love was deemed wholly incompatible with 


power; and material creation was a manifestation of power. Therefore, 
for the Cathars, material creation the world itself was intrinsically evil. All matter was 
intrinsically evil. 

The universe, in short, was the handiwork of a 'usurper god', the god of evil or, as the 
Cathars called him, "Rex Mundi', "King of the World'. 

Catholicism rests on what might be called an "ethical dualism'. Evil, though issuing 
ultimately perhaps from the Devil, manifests itself primarily through man and his actions. 
In contrast, the Cathars maintained a form of "cosmological dualism', a dualism that 
pervaded the whole of reality. For the Cathars, this was a basic premise, but their 
response to it varied from sect to sect. According to some Cathars, the purpose of man's 
life on earth was to transcend matter, to renounce perpetually anything connected with the 
principle of power and thereby to attain union with the principle of love. According to other 
Cathars, man's purpose was to reclaim and redeem matter, to spiritualise and transform it. 
It is important to note the absence of any fixed dogma, doctrine or theology. As in most 
deviations from established orthodoxy there are only certain loosely defined attitudes, and 
the moral obligations attendant on these attitudes were subject to individual interpretation. 
In the eyes of the Roman Church the Cathars were committing serious heresies in 
regarding material creation, on behalf of which Jesus had supposedly died, as intrinsically 
evil, and implying that God, whose 'word' had created the world "in the beginning', was a 
usurper. Their most serious heresy, however, was their attitude towards Jesus himself. 
Since matter was intrinsically evil, the Cathars denied that Jesus could partake of matter, 
become incarnate in the flesh, and still be the Son of God. By some Cathars he was 
therefore deemed to be wholly incorporeal, a 'phantasm', an entity of pure spirit, which, of 
course, could not possibly be crucified. The majority of Cathars seem to have regarded 
him as a prophet no different from any other a mortal being who, on behalf of the principle 
of love, died on the cross. There was, in short, nothing mystical, nothing supernatural, 
nothing divine about the Crucifixion if, indeed, it was relevant at all, which many Cathars 
appear to have doubted. 


In any case, all Cathars vehemently repudiated the significance of 

both the Crucifixion and the cross -perhaps because they felt these doctrines were 

irrelevant, or because Rome extolled them so fervently, or because the brutal 

circumstances of a prophet's death did not seem worthy of worship. And the cross at 

least in association with Calvary and the Crucifixion was regarded as an emblem of Rex 

Mundi, lord of the material world, the very antithesis of the true redemptive principle. 

Jesus, if mortal at all, had been a prophet of Ahs oR the principle of 

love. And 

AMOR, when inverted or perverted or twisted into power, became ROMA 

Rome, whose opulent, luxurious Church seemed to the Cathars a palpable 

embodiment and manifestation on earth of Rex Mundi's sovereignty. In 

consequence the 

Cathars not only refused to worship the cross, they also denied such sacraments as 

baptism and communion. 

Despite these subtle, complex, abstract and, to a modern mind perhaps, 

irrelevant theological positions, most Cathars were not unduly 

fanatical about their creed. It is intellectually fashionable nowadays 

to regard the 

Cathars as a congregation of sages, enlightened mystics or initiates in 

arcane wisdom, all of whom were privy to some great cosmic secret. In 

actual fact, however, most Cathars were more or less "ordinary' men and 

women, who found in their creed a refuge from the stringency of 


Catholicism a respite from the endless tithes, penances, obsequies, strictures and other 

impositions of the Roman Church. 

However abstruse their theology, the Cathars were eminently realistic 

people in practice. They condemned procreation, for example, since the 

propagation of the flesh was a service not to the principle of love, 

but to 

Rex Mundi; but they were not so naive as to advocate the abolition of 

sexuality. True, there was a specific Cathar "sacrament', or the 

equivalent thereof, called the Consolamentum, which compelled one to 

chastity. Except for the parfaits, however, who were usually ex-family 

men and women anyway, the Consolumentum was not administered until one 

was on one's death-bed; and it is not inordinately difficult to be 

chaste when one is dying. So far as the congregation at large was 

concerned, sexuality was tolerated, if not explicitly sanctioned. How 

does one condemn procreation while condoning sexuality? There is 


evidence to suggest that the Cathars practised both birth control and 

abortion." When Rome subsequently charged the heretics with 'unnatural 

sexual practices', this was taken to refer to sodomy. However, the 

Cathars, in so far as records survive, were extremely strict in their 

prohibition of homosexuality. "Unnatural sexual practices' may well 

have referred to various methods of birth control and abortion. We 

know Rome's position on those issues today. It is not difficult to 

imagine the energy and vindictive zeal with which that position would 

have been enforced during the Middle 


Generally, the Cathars seem to have adhered to a life of extreme devotion and simplicity. 

Deploring churches, they usually conducted their rituals and services in the open air or in 

any readily available building a barn, a house, a municipal hall. They also practised what 

we, today, would call meditation. They were strict vegetarians, although the eating of fish 

was allowed. And when travelling about the countryside, parfaits would always do so in 

pairs, thus lending credence to the rumours of sodomy sponsored by their enemies. 

The Siege of Montsegur 

This, then, was the creed which swept the Languedoc and adjacent provinces on a scale 

that threatened to displace Catholicism itself. For a number of comprehensible reasons, 

many nobles found the creed attractive. Some warmed to its general tolerance. Some 

were anti-clerical anyway. Some were disillusioned with the Church's corruption. Some 

had lost patience with the tithe system, whereby the income from their estates vanished 

into the distant coffers of Rome. Thus many nobles, in their old age, became parfaits. 

Indeed, it is estimated that 30 per cent of all parfaits were drawn from Languedoc nobility. 

In 1 145, half a century before the Albigensian Crusade, Saint Bernard 

himself had journeyed to the Languedoc, intending to preach against the 

heretics. When he arrived, he was less appalled by the heretics than 

by the corruption of his own Church. So far as the heretics were 



Bernard was clearly impressed-by them. "No sermons are more Christian 

than theirs," he declared, "and their morals are pure. '3 

By 1200, needless to say, Rome had grown distinctly alarmed by the 

situation. Nor was she unaware of the envy with which the barons of 

Northern Europe regarded the rich lands and cities to the south. This 

envy could readily be exploited, and the Northern lords would 

constitute the 

Church's storm-troops. All that was needed was some provocation, some excuse to ignite 

popular opinion. 

Such an excuse was soon forthcoming. On January 14 th , 1208, one of 


Papal Legates to the Languedoc, Pierre de Castelnau, was murdered. The 

crime seems to have been committed by anticlerical rebels with no 

Cathar affiliations whatever. Furnished with the excuse she needed, 

however, Rome did not hesitate to blame the Cathars. At once Pope 

Innocent III ordered a 

Crusade. Although there had been intermittent persecution of heretics all through the 

previous century, the Church now mobilised her forces in earnest. The heresy was to be 

extirpated once and for all. 

A massive army was mustered under the command of the abbot of Citeaux. 

Military operations were entrusted largely to Simon de Montfort father of the man who was 

subsequently to play so crucial a role in English history. 

And under Simon's leadership the pope's crusaders set out to reduce the highest 

European culture of the Middle Ages to destitution and rubble. 

In this holy undertaking they were aided by a new and useful ally, a 

Spanish fanatic named Dominic Guzman. Spurred by a rabid hatred of 

heresy, Guzman, in 1216, created the monastic order subsequently named 

after him, the 

Dominicans. And in 1233 the Dominicans spawned a more infamous institution the Holy 

Inquisition. The Cathars were not to be its sole victims. Before the Albigensian Crusade, 

many Languedoc nobles especially the influential houses of Trencavel and Toulouse had 

been extremely friendly to the region's large indigenous Jewish population. Now all such 

protection and support was withdrawn by order. 

In 1218 Simon de Montfort was killed besieging Toulouse. Nevertheless, the depredation 

of the Languedoc continued, with only brief respites, for another quarter of a century. By 

1243, however, all organised resistance in so far as there had ever been any had 

effectively ceased. 


By 1243 all major Cathar towns and bastions had fallen to the Northern 

invaders, except for a handful of remote and isolated strong points. Chief among these 

was the majestic mountain citadel of Montsegur, poised like a celestial ark above the 

surrounding valleys. 

For ten months Montsegur was besieged by the invaders, withstanding 

repeated assaults and maintaining tenacious resistance. At length, in 

March 1244, the fortress capitulated, and Catharism, at least 

ostensibly, ceased to exist in the south of France. But ideas can 

never be stamped out definitively. In his best-selling book, 

Montaillou, for example, Emmanuel 

Le Roy Ladurie, drawing extensively on documents of the period, 

chronicles the activities of surviving Cathars nearly half a century 

after the fall of 

Montsegur. Small enclaves of heretics continued to survive in the 

mountains, living in caves, adhering to their creed and waging a bitter 

guerrilla war against their persecutors. In many areas of the 

Languedoc including the environs of Rennes-leChateau the Cathar faith 

is generally acknowledged to have persisted. And many writers have 

traced subsequent 

European heresies to offshoots of Cathar thought the Waldensians, for 

instance, the Hussites, the Adamites or. Brethren of the Free Spirit, 


Anabaptists and the strange Camisards, numbers of whom found refuge 


London during the early eighteenth century. 

The Cathar Treasure 

During the Albigensian Crusade and afterwards, a mystique grew up 

around the 

Cathars which still persists today. In part this can be put down to 

the element of romance that surrounds any lost and tragic cause that of 


Prince Charlie, for example with a magical lustre, with a haunting nostalgia, with the "stuff 

of legend'. But at the same time, we discovered, there were some very real mysteries 

associated with the Cathars. While the legends might be exalted and romanticised, a 

number of enigmas remained. 

One of these pertains to the origins of the Cathars; and although this at first seemed an 

academic point to us, it proved subsequently to be of considerable importance. 


Most recent historians have argued that the Cathars derived from the 

Bogomils, a sect active in Bulgaria during the tenth and eleventh centuries, whose 

missionaries migrated westwards. There is no question that the heretics of the 

Languedoc included a number of Bogomils. 

Indeed a known 

Bogomil preacher was prominent in the political and religious affairs 

of the time. And yet our research disclosed substantial evidence that 

the Cathars did not derive from the Bogomils. On the contrary, they 

seemed to represent the flowering of something already rooted in French 

soil for centuries. They seemed to have issued, almost directly, from 

heresies established and entrenched in France at the very advent of the 

Christian era. 4 

There are other, considerably more intriguing, mysteries associated 

with the Cathars. Jean de Joinville, for example, an old man writing 

of his acquaintance with Louis IX during the thirteenth century, 

writes, "The king (Louis IX) once told me how several men from among 

the Albigenses had gone to the Comte de Montfort .. . and asked him to 

come and look at the body of Our Lord, which had become flesh and blood 

in the hands of their priest. '5 Montfort, according to the anecdote, 

declared that his entourage may go if they wish, but he will continue 

to believe in accordance with the tenets of 

"Holy Church'. There is no further elaboration or explanation of this incident. Joinville 

himself merely recounts it in passing. But what are we to make of that enigmatic 

invitation? What were the Cathars doing? What kind of ritual was involved? Leaving 

aside the Mass, which the Cathars repudiated anyway, what could possibly make "the 

body of Our Lord .. . become flesh and blood'? Whatever it might be, there is certainly 

something disturbingly literal in the statement. 

Another mystery surrounds the legendary Cathar "treasure'. It is known 

that the Cathars were extremely wealthy. Technically, their creed 

forbade them to bear arms; and though many ignored this prohibition, 

the fact remains that large numbers of mercenaries were employed at 

considerable expense. At the same time, the sources of Cathar wealth 

the allegiance they commanded from powerful landowners, for instance 


were obvious and explicable. Yet rumours arose, even during the 
course of the 

Albigensian Crusade, of a fantastic mystical Cathar treasure, far 
beyond material wealth. Whatever it was, this treasure was reputedly 
kept at 

Montsegur. When Montsegur fell, however, nothing of consequence was found. 
And yet there are certain extremely singular incidents connected with the siege and the 
capitulation of the fortress. 

During the siege, the attackers numbered upwards of ten thousand. With this vast force 
the besiegers attempted to surround the entire mountain, precluding all entry and exit and 
hoping to starve out the defenders. 

Despite their numerical strength, however, they lacked sufficient manpower to make their 
ring completely secure. Many troops were local, moreover, and sympathetic to the 
Cathars. And many troops were simply unreliable. In consequence, it was not difficult to 
pass undetected through the attackers' lines. There were many gaps through which men 
slipped to and fro, and supplies found their way up to the fortress. 
The Cathars took advantage of these gaps. In January, nearly three months before the 
fall of the fortress, two parfaits escaped. According to reliable accounts, they carried with 
them the bulk of the Cathars' material wealth a load of gold, silver and coin which they 
carried first to a fortified cave in the mountains and from there to a castle stronghold. 
After that the treasure vanished and has never been heard of again. 
On March 1 st Montsegur finally capitulated. By then its defenders numbered less than four 
hundred between 150 and 180 of them were parfaits, the rest being knights, squires, men- 
at-arms and their families. They were granted surprisingly lenient terms. The fighting 
men were to receive full pardon for all previous 'crimes'. They would be allowed to depart 
with their arms, baggage and any gifts, including money, they might receive from their 
employers. The parfaits were also accorded unexpected generosity. 
Provided they abjured their heretical beliefs and confessed their "sins' to the Inquisition, 
they would be freed and subjected only to light penances. 
The defenders requested a two-week truce, with a complete halt to 
hostilities, to consider the terms. In a further display of 


uncharacteristic generosity, the attackers agreed. In return the 

defenders voluntarily offered hostages. It was agreed that if anyone attempted to escape 

from the fortress the hostages would be executed. 

Were the parfaits so committed to their beliefs that they willingly chose martyrdom instead 

of conversion? Or was there something they could not or dared not -confess to the 

Inquisition? Whatever the answer, not one of the porfaits, as far as is known, accepted 

the besiegers' terms. On the contrary, all of them chose martyrdom. Moreover, at least 

twenty of the other occupants of the fortress, six women and some fifteen fighting men, 

voluntarily received the Consolamentum and became parfaits as well, thus committing 

themselves to certain death. 

On March 15 th the truce expired. At dawn the following day more than two hundred 

parfaits were dragged roughly down the mountainside. Not one recanted. There was no 

time to erect individual stakes, so they were locked into a large wood-filled stockade at the 

foot of the mountain and burned en masse. Confined to the castle, the remainder of the 

garrison was compelled to look on. They were warned that if any of them sought to 

escape it would mean death for all of them, as well as for the hostages. 

Despite this risk, however, the garrison had connived in hiding four 

parfaits among them. And on the night of March 16 th these four men, 

accompanied by a guide, made a daring escape again with the knowledge 

and collusion of the garrison. They descended the sheer western face 

of the mountain, suspended by ropes and letting themselves down drops 

of more than a hundred metres at a 

What were these men doing? What was the purpose of their hazardous escape, which 

entailed such risk to both the garrison and the hostages? On the next day they could 

have walked freely out of the fortress, at liberty to resume their lives. Yet for some 

unknown reason, they embarked on a perilous nocturnal escape which might easily have 

entailed death for themselves and their colleagues. 

According to tradition, these four men carried with them the 


Cathar treasure. But the Cathar treasure had been smuggled out of 

Montsegur three months before. And how much "treasure', in any case 


how much gold, silver or coin could three or four men carry on their 

backs, dangling from ropes on a sheer mountainside? If the four escapees were indeed 

carrying something, it would seem clear that they were carrying something other than 

material wealth. 

What might they have been carrying? Accoutrements of the Cathar faith perhaps books, 

manuscripts, secret teachings, relics, religious objects of some kind; perhaps something 

which, for one reason or another, could not be permitted to fall into hostile hands. That 

might explain why an escape was undertaken an escape that entailed such risk for 

everyone involved. 

But if something of so precious a nature had, at all costs, to be kept out of hostile hands, 

why was it not smuggled out before? Why was it not smuggled out with the bulk of the 

material treasure three months previously? Why was it retained in the fortress until this 

last and most dangerous moment? 

The precise date of the truce permitted us to deduce a possible answer to these 

questions. It had been requested by the defenders, who voluntarily offered hostages to 

obtain it. For some reason, the defenders seem to have deemed it necessary even 

though all it did was delay the inevitable for a mere two weeks. 

Perhaps, we concluded, such a delay was necessary to purchase time. Not time in 

general, but that specific time, that specific date. It coincided with the spring equinox -and 

the equinox may well have enjoyed some ritual status for the Cathars. It also coincided 

with Easter. But the Cathars, who questioned the relevance of the Crucifixion, ascribed 

no particular importance to Easter. And yet it is known that a festival of some sort was 

held on March 14 th , the day before the truce expired." There seems little doubt that the 

truce was requested in order that this festival might be held. And there seems little doubt 

that the festival could not be held on a date selected at random. It apparently had to be 

on March 14 th . Whatever the festival was, it clearly made some impression on the hired 

mercenaries some of whom, defying inevitable death, converted to the Cathar creed. 

Could this fact hold at least a partial key to what was smuggled out 


Montsegur two nights later? Could whatever was smuggled out then have 

been necessary, in some way, for the festival on the 14 th ? Could it 


somehow have been instrumental in persuading at least twenty of the 

defenders to become parfaits at the last moment? And could it in some fashion have 

ensured the subsequent collusion of the garrison, even at the risk of their lives? If the 

answer is yes to all these questions, that would explain why whatever was removed on the 

1 6 th was not removed earlier in January, for example, when the monetary treasure was 

carried to safety. It would have been needed for the festival. And it would then have had 

to be kept out of hostile hands. 

The Mystery of the Cathars 

As we pondered these conclusions, we were constantly reminded of the 

legends linking the Cathars and the Holy Grail. 8 We were not prepared 

to regard the 

Grail as anything more than myth. We were certainly not prepared to assert that it ever 

existed in actuality. Even if it did, we could not imagine that a cup or bowl, whether it held 

Jesus's blood or not, would be so very precious to the Cathars for whom Jesus, to a 

significant degree, was incidental. Nevertheless, the legends continued to haunt and 

perplex us. 

Elusive though it is, there does seem to be some link between the 

Cathars and the whole cult of the Grail as it evolved during the 

twelfth and thirteenth centuries. A number of writers have argued that 

the Grail romances -those of Chretien de Troyes and Wolfram von 

Eschenbach, for example are an interpolation of Cathar thought, hidden 

in elaborate symbolism, into the heart of orthodox Christianity. There 

may be some exaggeration in that assertion, but there is also some 

truth. During the 

Albigensian Crusade ecclesiastics fulminated against the Grail romances, declaring them 

to be pernicious, if not heretical. And in some of these romances there are isolated 

passages which are not only highly unorthodox, but quite unmistakably dualist in other 

words, Cathar. 

What is more, Wolfram von Eschenbach, in one of his Grail romances, declares that the 

Grail castle was situated in the Pyrenees an assertion which Richard Wagner, at any rate, 

would seem to have taken literally. 

According to Wolfram, the name of the Grail castle was Munsalvaesche - 



Germanicised version apparently of Montsalvat, a Cathar term. And in 

one of Wolfram's poems the lord of the 

Grail castle is named Perilla. Interestingly enough, the lord of 

Mpntsegur was Raimon de Pereille whose name, in its Latin form, appears 

on documents of the period as Perilla. 9 

If such striking coincidences persisted in haunting us, they must also, 

we concluded, have haunted Sauniere -who was, after all, steeped in the 

legends and folklore of the region. And like any other native of the 

region, Sauniere must have been constantly aware of the proximity of 

Montsegur, whose poignant and tragic fate still dominates local consciousness. But for 

Sauniere the very nearness of the fortress may well have entailed certain practical 


Something had been smuggled out of Montsegur just after the truce expired. 

According to tradition, the four men who escaped from the doomed 

citadel carried with them the Cathar treasure. But the monetary 

treasure had been smuggled out three months earlier. Could the Cathar 

'treasure', like the 'treasure' Sauniere discovered, have consisted 

primarily of a secret? Could that secret have been related, in some 

unimaginable way, to something that became known as the Holy Grail? It 

seemed inconceivable to us that the 

Grail romances could possibly be taken literally. 

In any case, whatever was smuggled out of Montsegur had to have been 

taken somewhere. According to tradition, it was taken to the fortified 

caves of 

Ornolac in the Ariege, where a band of Cathars was exterminated shortly 

after. But nothing save skeletons has ever been found at Ornolac. On 

the other hand, Rennes-leChateau is only half a day's ride on horseback 


Montsegur. Whatever was smuggled out of Montsegur might well have been brought to 

Rennes-leChateau, or, more likely, to one of the caves which honeycomb the surrounding 

mountains. And if the 'secret' of Montsegur was what Sauniere subsequently discovered, 

that would obviously explain a great deal. 

In the case of the Cathars, as with Sauniere, the word 'treasure' seems 

to hide something else knowledge or information of some kind. Given 

the tenacious adherence of the Cathars to their creed and their 

militant antipathy to Rome, we wondered if such knowledge or 


information (assuming it existed) related in some way to Christianity 

-to the doctrines and theology of Christianity, perhaps to its history and 
origins. Was it possible, in short, that the Cathars (or at least certain 
Cathars) knew something -something that contributed to the frenzied fervour with 


Rome sought their extermination? The priest who had written to us had referred to 
'incontrovertible proof. Could such 'proof have been known to the Cathars? 
At the time, we could only speculate idly. And information on the Cathars was in general 
so meagre that it precluded even a working hypothesis. On the other hand our research 
into the Cathars had repeatedly impinged on another subject, even more enigmatic and 
mysterious, and surrounded by evocative legends. This subject was the Knights Templar. 
It was therefore to the Templars that we next directed our investigation. 
And it was with the Templars that our inquiries began to yield concrete 
documentation, and the mystery began to assume far greater proportions 


than we had ever imagined. 3 The Warrior Monks 

To research the Knights Templar proved a daunting undertaking. The voluminous 
quantity of written material devoted to the subject was intimidating; and we could not at 
first be sure how much of this material was reliable. If the Cathars had engendered a 
welter of spurious and romantic legend, the mystification surrounding the Templars was 
even greater. 

On one level they were familiar enough to us the fanatically fierce warrior-monks, knight- 
mystics clad in white mantle with splayed red cross, who played so crucial a role in the 
Crusades. Here, in some sense, were the archetypal crusaders the storm-troopers of the 
Holy Land, who fought and died heroically for Christ in their thousands. 
Yet many writers, even today, regarded them as a much more mysterious 
institution, an essentially secret order, intent on obscure intrigues, 
clandestine machinations, shadowy conspiracies and designs. And there 
remained one perplexing and inexplicable fact. At the end of their 
two-century-long career, these white garbed champions of Christ were 
accused of denying and repudiating 
Christ, of trampling and spitting on the cross. 

In Scott's Ivanhoe the Templars are depicted as haughty and arrogant 
bullies, greedy and hypocritical despots shamelessly abusing their 
power, cunning manipulators orchestrating the affairs of men and 
kingdoms. In other nineteenth-century writers they are depicted as 
vile satanists, devil-worshippers, practitioners of all manner of 
obscene, abominable and/or heretical rites. More recent historians 
have been inclined to view them as hapless victims, sacrificial pawns 
in the high-level political manoeuvrings of Church and state. And 
there are yet other writers, especially in the tradition of 
Freemasonry, who regard the Templars as mystical adepts and initiates, 


custodians of an arcane wisdom that transcends Christianity itself. 

Whatever the particular bias or orientation of such writers, no one disputes the heroic zeal 

of the Templars or their contribution to history. 

Nor is there any question that their order is one of the most glamorous 

and enigmatic institutions in the annals of Western culture. No 

account of the 

Crusades or, for that matter, of Europe during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries will 

neglect to mention the Templars. At their zenith they were the most powerful and 

influential organisation in the whole of Christendom, with the single possible exception of 

the papacy. 

And yet certain haunting questions remain. Who and what were the 


Templar? Were they merely what they appeared to be, or were they something else? 

Were they simple soldiers on to whom an aura of legend and mystification was 

subsequently grafted? If so, why? Alternatively was there a genuine mystery connected 

with them? Could there have been some foundation for the later embellishments of myth? 

We first considered the accepted accounts of the Templars the accounts offered by 

respected and responsible historians. On virtually every point these accounts raised more 

questions than they answered. They not only collapsed under scrutiny, but suggested 

some sort of 'cover-up'. We could not escape the suspicion that something had been 

deliberately concealed and a 'cover story' manufactured, which later historians had merely 


Knights Templar The Orthodox Account 

So far as is generally known, the first historical information on the 

Templars is provided by a Frankish historian, Guillaume de Tyre, who 

wrote between 1 1 75 and 1 1 85. This was at the peak of the Crusades, 

when Western armies had already conquered the Holy Land and established 

the Kingdom of Jerusalem or, as it was called by the Templars 

themselves, "Outremer', the "Land Beyond the Sea'. But by the time 

Guillaume de Tyre began to write, Palestine had been in Western hands 

for seventy years, and the Templars had already been in existence for 


more than fifty. Guillaume was therefore writing of events which 

predated his own lifetime events which he had not personally witnessed or experienced, 

but had learnt of at second or even third hand. At second or third hand and, moreover, on 

the basis of uncertain authority. For there were no Western chroniclers in Outremer 

between 1 127 and 1 144. Thus there are no written records for those crucial years. 

We do not, in short, know much of Guillaume's sources, and this may well call some of his 

statements into question. He may have been drawing on popular word of mouth, on a 

none too reliable oral tradition. 

Alternatively, he may have consulted the Templars themselves and 

recounted what they told him. If this is so, it means he is reporting 

only what the 

Templars wanted him to report. 

Granted, Guillaume does provide us with certain basic information; and it is this 

information on which all subsequent accounts of the Templars, all explanations of their 

foundation, all narratives of their activities have been based. But because of Guillaume's 

vagueness and sketchiness, because of the time at which he was writing, because of the 

death of documented sources, he constitutes a precarious basis on which to build a 

definitive picture. Guillaume's chronicles are certainly useful. But it is a mistake and one 

to which many historians have succumbed to regard them as unimpugnable and wholly 


Even Guillaume's dates, as Sir Steven 

Runciman stresses, 'are confused and at times demonstrably wrong'." 

According to Guillaume de Tyre, the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ 

and the Temple of Solomon was founded in 1118. Its founder is said to 

be one 

Hugues de Payen, a nobleman from Champagne and vassal of the count of 

Champagne." One day Hugues, unsolicited, presented himself with eight 

comrades at the palace of Baudouin I -king of Jerusalem, whose elder 

brother, Godfroi de Bouillon, had captured the Holy City nineteen years 

before. Baudouin seems to have received them most cordially, as did 


Patriarch of Jerusalem the religious leader of the new kingdom and special emissary of 

the pope. 

The declared objective of the Templars, Guillaume de Tyre continues, 

was, 'as far as their strength permitted, they should keep the roads 


and highways safe .. . with especial regard for the protection of 

pilgrims '.3 So worthy was this objective apparently that the king placed an entire wing of 

the royal palace at the knights' disposal. And, despite their declared oath of poverty, the 

knights moved into this lavish accommodation. According to tradition, their quarters were 

built on the foundations of the ancient Temple of Solomon, and from this the fledgling 

Order derived its name. 

For nine years, Guillaume de Tyre tells us, the nine knights admitted 

no new candidates to their Order. They were still supposed to be 

living in poverty such poverty that official seals show two knights 

riding a single horse, implying not only brotherhood, but also a penury 

that precluded separate mounts. This style of seal is often regarded 

as the most famous and distinctive of Templar devices, descending from 

the first days of the 

Order. However, it actually dates from a full century later, when 


Templars were hardly poor if, indeed, they ever were. 

According to Guillaume de Tyre, writing a half century later, the Templars were 

established in 1118 and moved into the king's palace presumably sallying out from here to 

protect pilgrims on the Holy Land's highways and byways. And yet there was, at this time, 

an official royal historian, employed by the king. His name was Fulk de Chartres, and he 

was writing not fifty years after the Order's purported foundation but during the very years 

in question. Curiously enough, Fulk de Chartres makes no mention whatever of Hugues 

de Payen, Hugues's companions or anything even remotely connected with the Knights 

Templar. Indeed there is a thunderous silence about Templar activities during the early 

days of their existence. 

Certainly there is no record anywhere not even later of them doing anything to protect 

pilgrims. And one cannot but wonder how so few men could hope to fulfill so mammoth a 

self-imposed task. Nine men to protect the pilgrims on all the thoroughfares of the Holy 

Land? Only nine? And all pilgrims? If this was their objective, one would surely expect 

them to welcome new recruits. Yet, according to Guillaume de Tyre, they admitted no 

new candidates to the Order for nine years. 

None the less, within a decade the Templars' fame seems to have spread 


back to Europe. Ecclesiastical authorities spoke highly of them and 
extolled their Christian undertaking. 

By 1 128, or shortly thereafter, a tract lauding their virtues and qualities was issued by no 
less a person than Saint Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux and the age's chief spokesman for 
Christendom. Bernard's tract, "In Praise of the New Knighthood', declares the Templars 
to be the epitome and apotheosis of Christian values. 

After nine years, in 1 127, most of the nine knights returned to Europe and a triumphal 
welcome, orchestrated in large part by Saint Bernard. 

January 1 128 a Church council was convened at Troyes court of the count of 
Champagne, Hugues de Payen's liege lord at which Bernard was again the guiding spirit. 
At this council the Templars were officially recognised and incorporated as a religious- 
military order. Hugues de Payen was given the title of Grand Master. He and his 
subordinates were to be warrior-monks, soldier-mystics, combining the austere discipline 
of the cloister with a martial zeal tantamount to fanaticism a "militia of Christ', as they were 
called at the time. And it was again Saint Bernard who helped to draw up, with an 
enthusiastic preface, the rule of conduct to which the knights would adhere a rule based 
on that of the Cistercian monastic order, in which Bernard himself was a dominant 

The Templa~s were sworn to poverty, chastity and obedience. They were obliged to cut 
their hair but forbidden to cut their beards, thus distinguishing themselves in an age when 
most men were clean-shaven. 

Diet, dress and other aspects of daily life were stringently regulated 
in accordance with both monastic and military routines. All members of 

Order were obliged to wear white habits or surcoats and cloaks, and 
these soon evolved into the distinctive white mantle for which the 
Templars became famous. "It is granted to none to wear white habits, 
or to have white mantles, excepting the .. . Knights of Christ." So 
stated the 

Order's rule, which elaborated on the symbolic significance of this 
apparel, "To all the professed knights, both in winter and in summer, 
we give, if they can be procured, white garments, that those who have 


cast behind them a dark life may know Map 4The Major Castles and Towns 
of the Holy Land in the Mid-Twelfth 
Ton.- \s.r~a 1 


_- i 


Sidon I 


Beaofor< — _7yrej 


-_Tibenae SraofGafilrr 


- Cacaarea 


Jaffa A / / / 

Aaralon -1 


l)eadSca 1 


\ Kcrakl \ 1 \ 1 

Ml nc real \ 1 


1 I 

1 I 

1 I 

1 I 

Petra ~ 


\1 \\ / / that they are to commend themselves to their creator by a 

pure and white life. '5 

In addition to these details, the rule established a loose administrative hierarchy and 

apparatus. And behaviour on the battlefield was strictly controlled. If captured, for 

instance, Templars were not allowed to ask for mercy or to ransom themselves. They 

were compelled to fight to the death. 

Nor were they permitted to retreat, unless the odds against them exceeded three to one. 

In 1 1396 a Papal Bull was issued by Pope Innocent II a former 

Cistercian monk at Clairvaux and protege of Saint Bernard. According 

to this Bull, the 

Templars would owe allegiance to no secular or ecclesiastical power other than the pope 

himself. In other words, they were rendered totally independent of all kings, princes and 

prelates, and all interference from both political and religious authorities. They had 

become, in effect, a law unto themselves, an autonomous international empire. 

During the two decades following the Council of Troyes, the Order expanded with 

extraordinary rapidity and on an extraordinary scale. 

When Hugues de 

Payen visited England in late 1 128, he was received with "great 

worship' by 

King Henry I. Throughout Europe, younger sons of noble families flocked to enrol in the 

Order's ranks, and vast donations in money, goods and land were made from every 

quarter of Christendom. Hugues de Payen donated his own properties, and all new 

recruits were obliged to do likewise. On admission to the Order, a man was compelled to 

sign over all his possessions. 

Given such policies, it is not surprising that Templar holdings 

proliferated. Within a mere twelve months of the Council of Troyes, 


Order held substantial estates in France, England, Scotland, 


Spain and Portugal. Within another decade, it also held territory in 


Austria, Germany, Hungary, the Holy Land and points east. Although individual knights 

were bound to their vow of poverty, this did not prevent the Order from amassing wealth, 

and on an unprecedented scale. All gifts were welcomed. At the same time, the Order 

was forbidden to dispose of anything not even to ransom its leaders. The Temple 

received in abundance but, as a matter of strict policy, it never gave. 

When Hugues de Payen returned to Palestine in 1 130, therefore, with an 


entourage quite considerable for the time of some three hundred 

knights, he left behind, in the custody of other recruits, vast tracts of European territory. 

In 1 146 the Templars adopted the famous splayed red cross the cross pat tee With this 

device emblazoned on their mantles, the knights accompanied King Louis VII of France on 

the Second Crusade. Here they established their reputation for martial zeal coupled with 

an almost insane foolhardiness, and a fierce arrogance as well. On the whole, however, 

they were magnificently disciplined -the most disciplined fighting force in the world at the 

time. The French king himself wrote that it was the Templars alone who prevented the 

Second Crusade ill-conceived and mismanaged as it was from degenerating into a total 


During the next hundred years the Templars became a power with 

international influence. They were constantly engaged in high-level 

diplomacy between nobles and monarchs throughout the Western world and 


Holy Land. In England, for example, the Master of the Temple was regularly called to the 

king's Parliament, and was regarded as head of all religious orders, taking precedence 

over all priors and abbots in the land. Maintaining close links with both Henry II and 

Thomas a Becket, the Templars were instrumental in trying to reconcile the sovereign and 

his estranged archbishop. Successive English kings, including King John, often resided in 

the Temple's London preceptory, and the Master of the Order stood by the monarch's side 

at the signing of the Magna Carta." 

Nor was the Order's political involvement confined to Christendom alone. 

Close links were forged with the Muslim world as well the world so 

often opposed on the battlefield and the Templars commanded a respect 


Saracen leaders exceeding that accorded any other Europeans. Secret connections were 

also maintained with the Hashishim or Assassins, the famous sect of militant and often 

fanatical adepts who were Islam's equivalent of the Templars. The Hashishim paid tribute 

to the Templars and were rumoured to be in their employ. 

On almost every political level the Templars acted as official arbiters 

in disputes, and even kings submitted to their authority. In 1252 

Henry III of 


England dared to challenge them, threatening to confiscate certain of 

their domains. "You 

Templars .. . have so many liberties and charters that your enormous 

possessions make you rave with pride and haughtiness. What was 

imprudently given must therefore be prudently revoked; and what was 

inconsiderately bestowed must be considerately recalled." The Master 

of the Order replied, 

"What say est thou, O King? Far be it that thy mouth should utter so disagreeable and 

silly a word. So long as thou dost exercise justice, thou wilt reign. But if thou infringe it, 

thou wilt cease to be King." It is difficult to convey to the modern mind the enormity and 

audacity of this statement. Implicitly the Master is taking for his Order and himself a 

power that not even the papacy dared explicitly claim the power to make or depose 


At the same time, the Templars' interests extended beyond war, 

diplomacy and political intrigue. In effect they created and 

established the institution of modern banking. By lending vast sums to 

destitute monarchs they became the bankers for every throne in Europe 

and for certain Muslim potentates as well. With their network of 

preceptories throughout Europe and the Middle East, they also 

organised, at modest interest rates, the safe and efficient transfer of 

money for merchant traders, a class which became increasingly dependent 

upon them. Money deposited in one city, for example, could be claimed 

and withdrawn in another, by means of promissory notes inscribed in 

intricate codes. The Templars thus became the primary money-changers 

of the age, and the Paris preceptory became the centre of 

European finance. 9 It is even probable that the cheque, as we know and use it today, was 

invented by the Order. 

And the Templars traded not only in money, but in thought as well. Through their 

sustained and sympathetic contact with Islamic and Judaic culture, they came to act as a 

clearing-house for new ideas, new dimensions of knowledge, new sciences. They 

enjoyed a veritable monopoly on the best and most advanced technology of their age the 

best that could be produced by armourers, leather-workers, stone masons military 

architects and engineers. 

They contributed to the development of surveying, map-making, 

road-building and navigation. They possessed their own sea-ports, 


shipyards and fleet a fleet both commercial and military, which was 

among the first to use the magnetic compass. And as soldiers, the Templars' need to 

treat wounds and illness made them adept in the use of drugs. The Order maintained its 

own hospitals with its own physicians and surgeons whose use of mould extract suggests 

an understanding of the properties of antibiotics. Modern principles of hygiene and 

cleanliness were understood. And with an understanding also in advance of their time 

they regarded epilepsy not as demonic possession but as a controllable disease. ' 

Inspired by its own accomplishments, the Temple in Europe grew increasingly wealthy, 

powerful and complacent. Not surprisingly perhaps, it also grew increasingly arrogant, 

brutal and corrupt. "To drink like a Templar' became a cliche of the time. And certain 

sources assert that the Order made a point of recruiting excommunicated knights. 

But while the Templars attained both prosperity and notoriety in 

Europe, the situation in the Holy Land had seriously deteriorated. In 

11 85 King 

Baudouin IV of Jerusalem died. In the dynastic squabble that 


Gerard de Ridefort, Grand Master of the Temple, betrayed an oath made 

to the dead monarch, and thereby brought the European community in 

Palestine to the brink of civil war. Nor was this Ridefort's only 

questionable action. His cavalier attitude towards the Saracens 

precipitated the rupture of a long-standing truce, and provoked a new 

cycle of hostilities. Then, in 

July 1 187, Ridefort led his knights, along with the rest of the 

Christian army, into a rash, misconceived and, as it transpired, 

disastrous battle at 

Hattin. The Christian forces were virtually annihilated; and two 

months later Jerusalem itself captured nearly a century before was 

again in 

Saracen hands. 

During the following century the situation became increasingly 

hopeless. By 1291 nearly the whole of Outremer had fallen, and the 

Holy Land was almost entirely under Muslim control. Only Acre 

remained, and in May 1291 this last fortress was lost as well. In 

defending the doomed city, the Templars showed themselves at their most 

heroic. The Grand Master himself, though severely wounded, continued 

fighting until his death. As there was only limited space in the 


Order's galleys, the women and children were evacuated, while all 

knights, even the wounded, chose to remain behind. When the last bastion in Arce fell, it 

did so with apocalyptic intensity, the walls collapsing and burying attackers and defenders 


The Templars established their new headquarters in Cyprus; but with the loss of the Holy 

Land, they had effectively been deprived of their raison d'etre. As there were no longer 

any accessible infidel lands to conquer, the Order began to turn its attention towards 

Europe, hoping to find there a justification for its continued existence. 

A century before, the Templars had presided over the foundation of 

another chivalric, religious-military order, the Teutonic Knights. The 

latter were active in small numbers in the Middle East, but by the 

mid-thirteenth century had turned their attention to the north-eastern 

frontiers of 

Christendom. Here they had carved out an independent principality for 

themselves the Ordenstoat or Ordensland, which encompassed almost the 

whole of the eastern Baltic. In this principality which extended 


Prussia to the Gulf of Finland and what is now Russian soil the 


Knights enjoyed an unchallenged sovereignty, far from the reach of both secular and 

ecclesiastical control. 

From the very inception of the Ordenstaat, the Templars had envied the 

independence and immunity of their kindred order. After the fall of 


Holy Land, they thought increasingly of a state of their own in which 

they might exercise the same untrammelled authority and autonomy as the 


Knights. Unlike the Teutonic Knights, however, the Templars were not 

interested in the harsh wilderness of Eastern Europe. By now they were 

too accustomed to luxury and opulence. Accordingly, they dreamed of 

founding their state on more accessible, more congenial soil that of 



From its earliest years, the Temple had maintained a certain warm 

rapport with the Cathars, especially in the Languedoc. Many wealthy 

landowners Cathars themselves or sympathetic to the Cathars had donated 

vast tracts of land to the Order. According to a recent writer, at 

least one of the co-founders of the Temple was a Cathar. This seems 

somewhat improbable, but it is beyond dispute that Bertrand de 


Blanchefort, fourth Grand Master of the Order, came from a Cathar 

family. Forty years after Bertrand's death, his descendants were 

fighting side by side with other Cathar lords against the Northern 

invaders of Simon de Montfort. '2 

During the Albigensian Crusade, the Templars ostensibly remained 

neutral, confining themselves to the role of witnesses. At the same 

time, however, the Grand Master at the time would seem to have made the 

Order's position clear when he declared there was in fact only one true 

Crusade the 

Crusade against the Saracens. Moreover, a careful examination of 

contemporary accounts reveals that the Templars provided a haven for 


Cathar refugees."? On occasion they do seem to have taken up arms on 

these refugees' behalf. And an inspection of the Order's rolls towards 

the beginning of the Albigensian Crusade reveals a major influx of 

Cathars into the Temple's ranks where not even Simon de Montfort's 

crusaders would dare to challenge them. Indeed, the Templar rolls of 

the period show that a significant proportion of the Order's 

high-ranking dignitaries were from 

Cathar families. 14 In the Languedoc Temple officials were more 


Cathar than Catholic. What is more, the Cathar nobles who enrolled in 


Temple do not appear to have moved about the world as much as their 

Catholic brethren. On the contrary, they appear to have remained for the most part in the 

Languedoc, thus creating for the Order a long-standing and stable base in the region. 

By virtue of their contact with Islamic and Judaic cultures, the 

Templars had already absorbed a great many ideas alien to orthodox 


Christianity. Templar Masters, for example, often employed Arab secretaries, and many 

Templars, having learnt Arabic in captivity, were fluent in the language. A close rapport 

was also maintained with Jewish communities, financial interests and scholarship. The 

Templars had thus been exposed to many things Rome would not ordinarily countenance. 

Through the influx of Cathar recruits, they were now exposed to Gnostic dualism as well if, 

indeed, they had ever really been strangers to it. 

By 1306 Philippe IV of France Philippe le Bel was acutely anxious to rid his territory of the 

Templars. They were arrogant and unruly. 


They were efficient and highly trained, a professional military force 

much stronger and better organised than any he himself could muster. 

They were firmly established throughout 

France, and by this time even their allegiance to the pope was only nominal. 

Philippe had no control over the Order. He owed it money. He had been humiliated 

when, fleeing a rebellious Paris mob, he was obliged to seek abject refuge in the Temple's 

preceptory. He coveted the Templars' immense wealth, which his sojourn in their 

premises made flagrantly apparent to him. 

And, having applied to join the Order as a postulant, he had suffered the indignity of being 

haughtily rejected. These factors together, of course, with the alarming prospect of an 

independent Templar state at his back door were sufficient to spur the king to action. And 

heresy was a convenient excuse. 

Philippe first had to enlist the co-operation of the pope, to whom, in theory at any rate, the 

Templars owed allegiance and obedience. Between 1303 and 1305, the French king and 

his ministers engineered the kidnapping and death of one pope (Boniface VIII) and quite 

possibly the murder by poison of another (Benedict XI). Then, in 1305, Philippe managed 

to secure the election of his own candidate, the archbishop of Bordeaux, to the vacant 

papal throne. The new pontiff took the name Clement V. Indebted as he was to Philippe's 

influence, he could hardly refuse the king's demands. 

Philippe planned his moves carefully. A list of charges was compiled, partly from the 

king's spies who had infiltrated the Order, partly from the voluntary confession of an 

alleged renegade Templar. Armed with these accusations, Philippe could at last move; 

and when he delivered his blow, it was sudden, swift, efficient and lethal. In a security 

operation worthy of the SS or Gestapo, the king issued sealed and secret orders to his 

seneschals throughout the country. These orders were to be opened everywhere 

simultaneously and implemented at once. 

At dawn on Friday, 

October 13 th , 1307, all Templars in France were to be seized and placed 

under arrest by the king's men, their preceptories placed under royal 

sequestration, their goods confiscated. But although Philippe's 

objective of surprise might seem to have been achieved, his primary 

interest the 


Order's immense wealth eluded him. It was never found, and what 

became of the fabulous 'treasure of the Templars' has remained a mystery. 

In fact it is doubtful whether Philippe's surprise attack on the Order was as unexpected as 

he, or subsequent historians, believed. There is considerable evidence to suggest the 

Templars received some kind of advance warning. Shortly before the arrests, for 

example, the Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, called in many of the Order's books and 

extant rules, and had them burnt. A knight who withdrew from the Order at this time was 

told by the treasurer that he was extremely 'wise', as catastrophe was imminent. An 

official note was circulated to all French preceptories, stressing that no information 

regarding the Order's customs and rituals was to be released. 

In any case, whether the Templars were warned in advance or whether 

they deduced what was in the wind, certain precautions were definitely 

taken. '5 

In the first place the knights who were captured seem to have submitted passively, as if 

under instructions to do so. At no point is there any record of the Order in France actively 

resisting the king's seneschals. 

In the second place there is persuasive evidence of some sort of 

organised flight by a particular group of knights virtually all of whom 

were in some way connected with the Order's Treasurer. It is not 

perhaps surprising, therefore, that the treasure of the Temple, 

together with almost all its documents and records, should have 

disappeared. Persistent but unsubstantiated rumours speak of the 

treasure being smuggled by night from the Paris preceptory, shortly 

before the arrests. According to these rumours, it was transported by 

wagons to the coast presumably to the 

Order's naval base at La Rochelle and loaded into eighteen galleys, which were never 

heard of again. Whether this is true or not, it would seem that the Templars' fleet escaped 

the king's clutches because there is no report of any of the Order's ships being taken. On 

the contrary, those ships appear to have vanished totally, along with whatever they might 

have been carrying." 

In France the arrested Templars were tried and many subjected to torture. 

Strange confessions were extracted and even stranger accusations made. 


Grim rumours began to circulate about the country. The Templars 

supposedly worshipped a devil called Baphomet. At their secret ceremonies they 

supposedly prostrated themselves before a bearded male head, which spoke to them and 

invested them with occult powers. Unauthorised witnesses of these ceremonies were 

never seen again. And there were other charges as well, which were even more vague: of 

infanticide; of teaching women how to abort; of obscene kisses at the induction of 

postulants; of homosexuality. But of all the charges levelled against these soldiers of 

Christ, who had fought and laid down their lives for Christ, one stands out as most bizarre 

and seemingly improbable. They were accused of ritually denying Christ, of repudiating, 

trampling and spitting on the cross. 

In France, at least, the fate of the arrested Templars was effectively sealed. Philippe 

harried them savagely and mercilessly. Many were burned, many more imprisoned and 

tortured. At the same time the king continued to bully the pope, demanding ever more 

stringent measures against the Order. 

After resisting for a time, the pope gave way in 1312, and the 


Templar were officially dissolved without a conclusive verdict of guilt or innocence ever 

being pronounced. But in Philippe's domains, the trials, inquiries and investigations 

continued for another two years. 

At last, in 

March 1314, Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master, and Geoffroi de 


Preceptor of Normandy, were roasted to death over a slow fire. With their execution, the 

Templars ostensibly vanish from the stage of history. 

Nevertheless, the Order did not cease to exist. Given the number of knights who 

escaped, who remained at large or who were acquitted, it would be surprising if it had. 

Philippe had tried to influence his fellow monarchs, hoping thereby to ensure that no 

Templar, anywhere in Christendom, should be spared. 

Indeed, the king's zeal in this respect is almost suspicious. One can 

perhaps understand him wanting to rid his own domains of the Order's 

presence. It is rather less clear why he should have been so intent on 


Templars elsewhere. Certainly he himself was no model of virtue; and 

it is difficult to imagine a monarch who arranged for the deaths of two 


popes being genuinely distressed by infringements of faith. Did 

Philippe simply fear vengeance if the Order remained intact outside France? Or was there 

something else involved? 

In any case, his attempt to eliminate Templars outside France was not 

altogether successful. Philippe's own sonin-law, for example, Edward 

II of 

England, at first rallied to the Order's defence. Eventually, 

pressured by both the pope and the French king, he complied with their 

demands, but only partially and tepidly. Although most Templars in 

England seem to have escaped completely, a number were arrested. Of 

these, however, most received only light sentences sometimes no more 

than a few years' penance in abbeys and monasteries, where they lived 

in generally comfortable conditions. Their lands were eventually 

consigned to the Knights 

Hospitaller of Saint John, but they themselves were spared the vicious persecution visited 

upon their brethren in France. 

Elsewhere the elimination of the Templars met with even greater difficulty. 

Scotland, for instance, was at war with England at the time, and the consequent chaos left 

little opportunity for implementing legal niceties. 

Thus the Papal Bulls dissolving the Order were never proclaimed in Scotland and in 

Scotland, therefore, the Order was never technically dissolved. 

Many English and, it would appear, French Templars found a Scottish 

refuge, and a sizeable contingent is said to have fought at Robert 

Bruce's side at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. According to legend 

coherent body in 

Scotland for another four centuries. In the fighting of 1 688-91 , James 

II of England was deposed by William of Orange. In Scotland supporters 

of the beleaguered Stuart monarch rose in revolt and, at the Battle 


Killiecrankie in 1689, John Claverhouse, Viscount of Dundee, was killed on the field. 

When his body was recovered, he was reportedly found to be wearing the Grand Cross of 

the Order of the Temple -not a recent device supposedly, but one dating from before 


In Lorraine, which was part of Germany at the time, not part of France, 


Templars were supported by the duke of the principality. A few were 

tried and exonerated. Most, it seems, obeyed their Preceptor, who 

reputedly advised them to shave their beards, don secular garb and 


assimilate themselves into the local populace. 

In Germany proper the Templars openly defied their judges, threatening to take up arms. 

Intimidated, their judges pronounced them innocent; and when the Order was officially 

dissolved, many German Templars found a haven in the Hospitallers of Saint John and in 

the Teutonic Order. In Spain, too, the Templars resisted their persecutors and found a 

refuge in other orders. 

In Portugal the Order was cleared by an inquiry and simply modified its 

name, becoming Knights of Christ. Under this title they functioned 

well into the sixteenth century, devoting themselves to maritime 

activity. Vasco da Gama was a Knight of Christ, and Prince Henry the 

Navigator was a Grand 

Master of the Order. Ships of the Knights of Christ sailed under the 

familiar red pat tee cross. And it was under the same cross that 


Columbus's three caravels crossed the Atlantic to the New World. Columbus himself was 

married to the daughter of a former Knight of Christ, and had access to his father-inlaw's 

charts and diaries. 

Thus, in a number of diverse ways, the Templars survived the attack 


October 13 th , 1307. And in 1522 the Templars' Prussian progeny, the 

Teutonic Knights, seculari sed themselves, repudiated their allegiance 


Rome and threw their support behind an upstart rebel and heretic 


Martin Luther. Two centuries after their dissolution, the Templars, however vicariously, 

were exacting revenge on the Church which had betrayed them. 

Knights Templar The Mysteries 

In greatly abridged form, this is the history of the Knights Templar as 

writers have accepted and presented it, and as we encountered it in our 

research. But we quickly discovered that there was another dimension 

to the Order's history, considerably more elusive, more provocative and 

more speculative. Even during their existence, a mystique had come to 

surround the knights. Some said they were sorcerers and magicians, 

secret adepts and alchemists. Many of their contemporaries shunned 

them, believing them to be in league with unclean powers. As early as 


1208, at the beginning of the Albigensian Crusade, Pope Innocent III 

had admonished "the Templars for un-Christian behaviour, and referred explicitly to 

necromancy. On the other hand, there were individuals who praised them with 

extravagant enthusiasm. 

In the late twelfth century Wolfram von Eschenbach, greatest of 


Minnesanger or romanciers, paid a special visit to Outremer, to witness 


Order in action. And when, between 1 195 and 1220, Wolfram composed his 

epic romance Parzival, he conferred on the Templars a most exalted 

status. In 

Wolfram's poem the knights who guard the Holy Grail, the Grail castle 

and the Grail family, are Templars. "e 

After the Temple's demise, the mystique surrounding it persisted. The 

final recorded act in the Order's history had been the burning of the 

last Grand 

Master, Jacques de Molay, in March 1314. As the smoke from the slow 

fire choked the life from his body, Jacques de Molay is said to have 

issued an imprecation from the flames. According to tradition, he 

called his persecutors Pope Clement and King Philippe to join him and 

account for themselves before the court of God within the year. Within 

a month Pope 

Clement was dead, supposedly from a sudden onslaught of dysentery. By the end of the 

year Philippe was dead as well, from causes that remain obscure to this day. There is, of 

course, no need to look for supernatural explanations. The Templars possessed great 

expertise in the use of poisons. 

And there were certainly enough people about refugee knights travelling incognito, 

sympathisers of the Order or relatives of persecuted brethren to exact the appropriate 

vengeance. Nevertheless, the apparent fulfilment of the Grand Master's curse lent 

credence to belief in the Order's occult powers. Nor did the curse end there. According to 

legend, it was to cast a pall over the French royal line far into the future. And thus echoes 

of the Templars' supposed mystic power reverberated down the centuries. 

By the eighteenth century various secret and semi secret 

confraternities were lauding the Templars as both precursors and 

mystical initiates. Many 

Freemasons of the period appropriated the Templars as their own 

antecedents. Certain Masonic "rites' or "observances' claimed direct 

lineal descent from the Order, as well as authorised custody of its 


arcane secrets. Some of these claims were patently preposterous. 

Others resting, for example, on the 

Order's possible survival in Scotland -may well have a core of validity, even if the 

attendant trappings are spurious. 

By 1789 the legends surrounding the Templars had attained positively mythic proportions, 

and their historical reality was obscured by an aura of obfuscation and romance. They 

were regarded as occult adepts, illumined alchemists, magi and sages, master masons 

and high initiates veritable supermen endowed with an awesome arsenal of arcane power 

and knowledge. 

They were also regarded as heroes and martyrs, harbingers of the anticlerical spirit of the 

age; and many French Freemasons, in conspiring against Louis XVI, felt they were 

helping to implement Jacques de Molay's dying curse on the French line. When the king's 

head fell beneath the guillotine, an unknown man is reported to have leaped on to the 


He dipped his hand in the monarch's blood, flung it out over the surrounding throng and 

cried, "Jacques de Molay, thou art avenged!" 

Since the French Revolution the aura surrounding the Templars has not 

diminished. At least three contemporary organisations today call 


Templars, claiming to possess a pedigree from 1314 and charters whose authenticity has 

never been established. Certain Masonic lodges have adopted the grade of "Templar', as 

well as rituals and appellations supposedly descended from the original Order. Towards 

the end of the nineteenth century, a sinister "Order of the New Templars' was established 

in Germany and Austria, employing the swastika as one of its emblems. 

Figures like H. P. Blavatsky, founder of Theosophy, and Rudolf Steiner, 

founder of Anthroposophy, spoke of an esoteric 'wisdom tradition' 

running back through the Rosicrucians to the Cathars and Templars who 

were purportedly repositories of more ancient secrets still. In the 


States teenage boys are admitted into the De Molay Society, without 

either they or their mentors having much notion whence the name 

derives. In 

Britain, as well as elsewhere in the West, recondite rotary clubs 

dignify themselves with the name "Templar' and include eminent public 

figures. From the heavenly kingdom he sought to conquer with his 

sword, Hugues de Payen must now look down with a certain wry 


perplexity on the latter-day knights, balding, paunched and 

bespectacled, that he engendered. And yet he must also be impressed by the durability 
and vitality of his legacy. 

In France this legacy is particularly powerful. Indeed, the Templars 
are a veritable industry in France, as much as Glastonbury, ley-lines 
or the Loch 

Ness Monster are in Britain. In Paris book shops are filled with histories and accounts of 
the Order some valid, some plunging enthusiastically into lunacy. During the last quarter- 
century or so a number of extravagant claims have been advanced on behalf of the 
Templars, some of which may not be wholly without foundation. Certain writers have 
credited them, at least in large part, with the building of the Gothic cathedrals or at least 
with providing an impetus of some sort to that burst of architectural energy and genius. 
Other writers have argued that the Order established commercial contact with the 
Americas as early as 1269, and derived much of its wealth from imported Mexican silver. 
It has frequently been asserted that the Templars were privy to some sort of secret 
concerning the origins of Christianity. It has been said that they were Gnostic, that they 
were heretical, that they were defectors to Islam. It has been declared that they sought a 
creative unity between bloods, races and religions a systematic policy of fusion between 
Islamic, Christian and Judaic thought. 

And again and again it is maintained, as Wolfram von Eschenbach 
maintained nearly eight centuries ago, that the Templars were guardians 
of the Holy 

Grail, whatever the Holy Grail might be. 

The claims are often ridiculous. At the same time there are unquestionably mysteries 
associated with' the Templars and, we became convinced, secrets of some kind as well. 
It was clear that some of these secrets pertained to what is now called 'esoterica'. 
Symbolic carvings in Templar preceptories, for instance, suggest that some officials in the 
Order's hierarchy were conversant with such disciplines as astrology, alchemy, sacred 
geometry and numerology, as well, of course, as astronomy which, in the twelfth and 
thirteenth centuries, was inseparable from astrology, and every bit as 'esoteric'. 
But it was neither the extravagant claims nor the esoteric residues 


that intrigued us. On the contrary, we found ourselves fascinated by 

something much more mundane, much more prosaic the welter of 

contradictions, improbabilities, inconsistencies and apparent 

"smoke-screens' in the accepted history. Esoteric secrets the 

Templars may well have had. But something else about them was being concealed as 

well something rooted in the religious and political currents of their epoch. It was on this 

level that we undertook most of our investigation. 

We began with the end of the story, the fall of the Order and the charges levelled against 

it. Many books have been written exploring and evaluating the possible truth of these 

charges; and from the evidence we, like most researchers, concluded there seems to 

have been some basis for them. 

Subjected to interrogation by the Inquisition, for example, a number of knights referred to 

something called "Baphomet' too many, and in too many different places, for Baphomet to 

be the invention of a single individual or even a single preceptory. At the same time, there 

is no indication of who or what Baphomet might have been, what he or it represented, why 

he or it should have had any special significance. It would appear that Baphomet was 

regarded with reverence, a reverence perhaps tantamount to idolatry. In some instances 

the name is associated with the gargoyle-like, demonic sculptures found in various 

preceptories. On other occasions Baphomet seems to be associated with an apparition of 

a bearded head. Despite the claims of certain older historians, it seems clear that 

Baphomet was not a corruption of the name Muhammad. On the other hand, it might 

have been a corruption of the Arabic abufihamet, pronounced in Moorish Spanish as 


This means "Father of Understanding' or "Father of Wisdom', and 

'father' in Arabic is also taken to imply 'source'. If this is 

indeed the origin of Baphomet, it would therefore refer presumably to 

some supernatural or divine principle. But what might have 


Baphomet from any other supernatural or divine principle remains unclear. 

If Baphomet was simply God or Allah, why did the Templars bother to 

re-christen Him? And if Baphomet was not God or Allah, who or what was 


In any case, we found indisputable evidence for the charge of secret ceremonies involving 

a head of some kind. 


Indeed the existence of such a head proved to be one of the dominant 

themes running through the Inquisition records. As with Baphomet, however, the 

significance of the head remains obscure. It may perhaps pertain to alchemy. 

In the alchemical process there was a phase called the "Caput Mortuum' 

or "Dead Head' the "Nigredo' or "Blackening' which was said to occur 

before the precipitation of the Philosopher's Stone. According to 

other accounts, however, the head was that of Hugues de Payen, the 

Order's founder and first 

Grand Master; and it is suggestive that Hugues's shield consisted of three black heads on 

a gold field. 

The head may also be connected with the famous Turin Shroud, which 

seems to have been in the possession of the Templars between 1204 and 

1307, and which, if folded, would have appeared as nothing more than a 

head. Indeed, at the Templar preceptory of Templecombe in Somerset a 

reproduction of a head was found which bears a striking resemblance to 

that on the Turin 

Shroud. At the same time recent speculation had linked the head, at 

least tentatively, with the severed head of John the Baptist; and 

certain writers have suggested that the Templars were "infected' with 

the johannite or 

Mandaean heresy which denounced Jesus as a 'false prophet' and acknowledged John 

as the true Messiah. In the course of their activities in the Middle East the Templars 

undoubtedly established contact with johannite sects, and the possibility of Johannite 

tendencies in the Order is not altogether unlikely. But one cannot say that such 

tendencies obtained for the Order as a whole, nor that they were a matter of official policy. 

During the interrogations following the arrests in 1307, a head also figured in two other 

connections. According to the Inquisition records, among the confiscated goods of the 

Paris preceptory a reliquary in the shape of a woman's head was found. It was hinged on 

top, and contained what appeared to have been relics of a peculiar kind. It is described as 


a great head of gilded silver, most beautiful, and constituting the 

image of a woman. Inside were two head bones wrapped in a cloth of 

white linen, with another red cloth around it. A label was attached, 


on which was written the legend CAPUT LVIIIm. The bones inside were 

those of a rather small woman. z 

A curious relic especially for a rigidly monastic, military institution 

like the Templars. Yet a knight under interrogation, when confronted 

with this feminine head, declared it had no relation to the bearded 

male head used in the Order's rituals. Caput LVIIIm -"Head 58m' 

remains a baffling enigma. But it is worth noting that the 'm' may not 

be an 'm' at all, but U, the astrological symbol for Virgo .z' 

The head figures again in another mysterious story traditionally linked with the Templars. 

It is worth quoting in one of its several variants: 

A great lady of Maraclea was loved by a Templar, a Lord of Sidon; but 

she died in her youth, and on the night of her burial, this wicked 

lover crept to the grave, dug up her body and violated it. Then a 

voice from the void bade him return in nine months time for he would 

find a son. He obeyed the injunction and at the appointed time he 

opened the grave again and found a head on the leg bones of the 

skeleton (skull and crossbones). The same voice bade him' guard it 

well, for it would be the giver of all good things', and so he carried 

it away with him. It became his protecting genius, and he was able to 

defeat his enemies by merely showing them the magic head. In due 

course, it passed into the possession of the Order .z2 

This grisly narrative can be traced at least as far back as one Walter 

Map, writing in the late twelfth century. But neither he nor another 

writer, who recounts the same tale nearly a century later, specifies 

that the necrophiliac rapist was a Templar. Z3 Nevertheless, by 1307 the 

story had become closely associated with the Order. It is mentioned 

repeatedly in the 

Inquisition's records, and at least two knights under interrogation confessed their 

familiarity with it. In subsequent accounts, like the one quoted above, the rapist himself is 

identified as a Templar, and he remains so in the versions preserved by Freemasonry - 

which adopted the skull and crossbones, and often employed it as a device on 


In part the tale might almost seem to be a grotesque travesty of the 


Immaculate Conception. In part it would seem to be a garbled symbolic 

account of some initiation rite, some ritual involving a figurative 

death and resurrection. One chronicler cites the name of the woman in 

the story Yse, which would seem quite clearly to derive from Isis. And 

certainly the tale evokes echoes of the mysteries associated with Isis, 

as well as those of Tammuz or Adonis, whose head was flung into the 

sea, and of Orpheus, whose head was flung into the river of the Milky 

Way. The magical properties of the head also evoke the head of Bran 


Blessed in Celtic mythology and in the Mabinogion. And it is Bran's mystical cauldron that 

numerous writers have sought to identify as the pagan precursor of the Holy Grail. 

Whatever significance might be ascribed to the 'cult of the head', 


Inquisition clearly believed it to be important. In a list of charges drawn up on August 12 th , 

1308, there is the following: 

Item, that in each province they had idols, namely heads... Item, that they adored these 

idols .. . 

Item, that they said that the head could save them. Item, that lit 

could] make riches .. . Item, that it made the trees flower. Item, 

that it made the land germinate. Item, that they surrounded or touched 

each head of the aforesaid idols with small cords, which they wore 

around themselves next to the shirt or the flesh .24 

The cord mentioned in the last item is reminiscent of the Cathars, who were also alleged 

to have worn a sacred cord of some kind. But most striking in the list is the head's 

purported capacity to engender riches, make trees flower and bring fertility to the land. 

These properties coincide remarkably with those ascribed in the romances to the Holy 


Of all the charges levelled against the Templars, the most serious were those of 

blasphemy and heresy of denying, trampling and spitting on the cross. It is not clear 

precisely what this alleged ritual was intended to signify -what, in other words, the 

Templars were actually repudiating. Were they repudiating Christ? Or were they simply 

repudiating the Crucifixion? 

And whatever they repudiated, what exactly did they extol in its stead? 


No one has satisfactorily answered these questions, but it seems clear 

that a repudiation of some sort did occur, and was an integral 

principle of the 

Order. One knight, for example, testified that on his induction into 


Order he was told, "You believe wrongly, because he [Christ] is indeed 

a false prophet. Believe only in God in heaven, and not in him."zs 


Templar declared that he was told, "Do not believe that the man Jesus 

whom the Jews crucified in Outremer is God and that he can save you."zs 

A third knight similarly claimed he was instructed not to believe in 

Christ, a false prophet, but only in a "higher God'. He was then shown 

a crucifix and told, 

"Set not much faith in this, for it is too young." 

Such accounts are frequent and consistent enough to lend credence to 

the charge. They are also relatively bland; and if the Inquisition 

desired to concoct evidence, it could have devised something far more 

dramatic, more incriminating, more damning. There thus seems little 

doubt that the 

Templars' attitude towards Jesus did not concur with that of Catholic orthodoxy, but it is 

uncertain precisely what the Order's attitude was. 

In any case, there is evidence that the ritual ascribed to the Templars 

-trampling and spitting on the cross was in the air at least half a century 
before 1307. Its context is confusing, but it is mentioned in connection with the 

Sixth Crusade, which occurred in 1249.28 

Knights Templar The Hidden Side 

If the end of the Knights Templar was fraught with baffling enigmas, 

the foundation and early history of the Order seemed to us to be even 

more so. We were already plagued by a number of inconsistencies and 

improbabilities. Nine knights, nine "poor' knights, appeared as if 

from nowhere and among all the other crusaders swarming about the Holy 

Land promptly had the king's quarters turned over to them! Nine "poor' 

knights without admit ting any new recruits to their ranks presumed, 

all by themselves, to defend the highways of Palestine. And there was 

no record at all of them actually doing any thing, not even from Fulk 

de Chartres, the king's official chronicler, who must surely have known 


about Map 5Jerusalem the Temple and the Area of Mount Sion in the 





Chorch4ih'HolyS~lchr~ FHE TEMPI .F 

,i, o m "~4 C 

S, Man of,h, Lame._ 

S'Mary heGr S, Man d ih, F.<l'm~n 

l~ Bhp Moun~ 1 1 Ulno god Bwhun 



F Ht: l't)hFPLARS 

NOTE DAME Dt: SION (C-le and Tomb ~"l D-id) 



them! How, we wondered, could their activities, their move into the 

royal premises, for instance, have escaped Fulk's notice? It would seem incredible, yet 

the chronicler says nothing. No one says anything, in fact, until Guillaume de Tyre, a 

good half century later. What could we conclude from this? That the knights were not 

engaged in the laudable public service ascribed to them? That they were perhaps 

involved instead in some more clandestine activity, of which not even the official chronicler 

was aware? 

Or that the chronicler himself was muzzled? The latter would seem to be the most likely 

explanation. For the knights were soon joined by two most illustrious noblemen, 

noblemen whose presence could not have gone unnoticed. 

According to Guillaume de Tyre, the Order of the Temple was established 

in 1118, originally numbered nine knights and admitted no new recruits 

for nine years. It is clearly on record, however, that the count of 

Anjou -father of Geoffrey Plantagenet joined the Order in 1120, only 

two years after its supposed foundation. And in 1 124 the count of 

Champagne, one of the wealthiest lords in Europe, did likewise. If 

Guillaume de Tyre is correct, there should have been no new members 

until 1127; but by 11 26 the 

Templars had in fact admitted four new members to their ranks." Is 

Guillaume wrong, then, in saying that no new members were admitted for 

nine years? Or is he perhaps correct in that assertion, but wrong in 

the date he attributes to the Order's foundation? If the count of 

Anjou became a 

Templar in 1 1 20, and if the Order admitted no new members for nine years after its 

foundation, its foundation would date not from 1118, but at the latest, from 1111 or 1 1 1 2. 

Indeed there is very persuasive evidence for this conclusion. In 1 1 14 the count of 

Champagne was preparing for a journey to the Holy Land. 

Shortly before his departure, he received a letter from the bishop of 

Chartres. At one point, the bishop wrote, "We have heard that .. . 

before leaving for 

Jerusalem you made a vow to join "la mi lice du Christ", that you wish 

to enrol in this evangelical soldiery. '3 "La mi lice du Christ' was 

the name by which the Templars were originally known, and the name by 

which Saint 

Bernard alludes to them. In the context of the bishop's letter the 


appellation cannot possibly refer to any other institution. It cannot 

mean, for example, that the count of Champagne simply decided to become a crusader, 

because the bishop goes on to speak of a vow of chastity which his decision has entailed. 

Such a vow would hardly have been required of an ordinary crusader. From the bishop of 

Chartres's letter, then, it is clear that the Templars already existed, or had at least been 

planned, as early as 1114, four years before the date generally accepted; and that as 

early as 1 1 14, the count of Champagne was already intending to join their ranks -which he 

eventually did a decade later. One historian who noted this letter drew the rather curious 

conclusion that the bishop cannot have meant what he said." He could not have meant to 

refer to the Templars, the historian in question argues, because the Templars were not 

founded until four years later in 1 1 18. Or perhaps the bishop did not know the year of Our 

Lord in which he was writing? But the bishop died in 1115. How, in 1114, could he 

'mistakenly' refer to something which did not yet exist? 

There is only one possible, and very obvious, answer to the question that it is not the 

bishop who is wrong, but Guillaume de Tyre, as well as all subsequent historians who 

insist on regarding Guillaume as the unimpeachable voice of authority. 

In itself an earlier foundation date for the Order of the Temple need 

not necessarily be suspicious. But there are other circumstances and 

singular coincidences which decidedly are. At least three of the nine 

founding knights, including Hugues de Payen, seem to have come from 

adjacent regions, to have had family ties, to have known each other 

previously and to have been vassals of the same lord. This lord was 

the count of 

Champagne, to whom the bishop of Chartres addressed his letter in 1114 and who 

became a Templar in 1 1 24, pledging obedience to his own vassal! In 1 1 1 5 the count of 

Champagne donated the land on which Saint Bernard, patron of the Templars, built the 

famous Abbey of Clairvaux; and one of the nine founding knights, Andre de Montbard, 

was Saint Bernard's uncle. 

In Troyes, moreover, the court of the count of Champagne, an 

influential school of Cabalistic and esoteric studies had flourished 

since 1 070. "2 At the Council of Troyes in 1 1 28 the Templars were 


officially incorporated. For the next two centuries Troyes remained a 

strategic centre for the Order; and even today there is a wooded 

expanse adjacent to the city called the Foret du Temple. And it was 

from Troyes, court of the count of 

Champagne, that one of the earliest Grail romances issued quite possibly the earliest, 

composed by Chretien de Troyes. 

Amid this welter of data, we could begin to see a tenuous web of 

connections a pattern that seemed more than mere coincidence. If such 

a pattern did exist, it would certainly support our suspicion that 


Templars were involved in some clandestine activity. Nevertheless, we 

could only speculate as to what that activity might have been. One 

basis for our speculation was the specific site of the knights' 

domicile the wing of the royal palace, the Temple Mount, so 

inexplicably conferred upon them. In 

A.D. 70 the Temple which then stood there was sacked by Roman legions 


Titus. Its treasure was plundered and brought to Rome, then plundered again and 

perhaps brought to the Pyrenees. But what if there were something else in the Temple as 

well something even more important than the treasure pillaged by the Romans? It is 

certainly possible that the Temple's priests, confronted by an advancing phalanx of 

centurions, would have left to the looters the booty they expected to find. And if there 

were something else, it might well be concealed somewhere near by. Beneath the 

Temple, for instance. 

Among the Dead Sea Scrolls found at QumrAan, there is one now known as 

the "Copper Scroll'. This scroll, deciphered at Manchester University 

in 1955-6, makes explicit references to great quantities of bullion, 

sacred vessels, additional unspecified material and 'treasure' of an 

indeterminate kind. It cites twenty-four different hoards buried 

beneath the Temple itself .33 

In the mid-twelfth century a pilgrim to the Holy Land, one Johann von 

Wurzburg, wrote of a visit to the so-called "Stables of Solomon'. These stables, situated 

directly beneath the Temple itself, are still visible. 

They were large enough, Johann reported, to hold two thousand horses; and it was in 

these stables that the Templars quartered their mounts. 

According to at least one other historian, the Templars were using 

these stables for their horses as early as 1 124, when they still 


supposedly numbered only nine. It would thus seem likely that the 

fledgling Order, almost immediately after its inception, undertook excavations beneath the 


Such excavations might well imply that the knights were actively 

looking for something. It might even imply that they were deliberately 

sent to the 

Holy Land, with the express commission of finding something. If this supposition is valid, 

it would explain a number of anomalies -their installation in the royal palace, for example, 

and the silence of the chronicler. But if they were sent to Palestine, who sent them? 

In 1 104 the count of Champagne had met in conclave with certain 

high-ranking nobles, at least one of whom had just returned from 

Jerusalem." Among those present at this conclave were representatives of certain 

families r. Brienne, Joinville and Chaumont who, we later discovered, figured significantly 

in our story. Also present was the liege lord of Andre de Montbard, Andre being one of 

the co-founders of the Temple and Saint Bernard's uncle. 

Shortly after the conclave, the count of Champagne departed for the 


Land himself and remained there for four years, returning in 1 1 08.35 In 

1 1 14 he made a second journey to Palestine, intending to join the mi 

lice du Christ', then changing his mind and returning to Europe a year 

later. On his return, he immediately donated a tract of land to the 

Cistercian Order, whose pre-eminent spokesman was Saint Bernard. On 

this tract of land Saint 

Bernard built the Abbey of Clairvaux, where he established his own residence and then 

consolidated the Cistercian Order. 

Prior to 1 1 12 the Cistercians were dangerously close to bankruptcy. Then, under Saint 

Bernard's guidance, they underwent a dazzling change of fortune. Within the next few 

years half a dozen abbeys were established. By 1 1 53 there were more than three 

hundred, of which Saint Bernard himself personally founded sixty-nine. This extraordinary 

growth directly parallels that of the Order of the Temple, which was expanding in the same 

way during the same years. And, as we have said, one of the co founders of the Order of 

the Temple was Saint Bernard's uncle, Andre de Montbard. 


It is worth reviewing this complicated sequence of events. In 1 1 04 

the count of Champagne departed for the Holy Land after meeting with 

certain nobles, one of whom was connected with Andre de 

Montbard. In 1112 Andre de Montbard's nephew, Saint Bernard, joined 


Cistercian Order. In 1 1 14 the count of Champagne departed on a second 

journey to the Holy Land, intending to join the Order of the Temple 

which was co-founded by his own vassal together with Andre de Montbard, 

and which, as the bishop of Chartres's letter attests, was already in 

existence or in process of being established. In 1 1 1 5 the count of 

Champagne returned to 

Europe, having been gone for less than a year, and donated land for 


Abbey of Clairvaux whose abbot was Andre de Montbard's nephew. In the 

years that followed both the Cistercians and the Templars both Saint 

Bernard's order and Andre de Montbard's became immensely wealthy and enjoyed 

phases of phenomenal growth. 

As we pondered this sequence of events, we became increasingly convinced that there 

was some pattern underlying and governing such an intricate web. 

It certainly did not appear to be random, nor wholly coincidental. On the contrary we 

seemed to be dealing with the vestiges of some complex and ambitious overall design, the 

full details of which had been lost to history. In order to reconstruct these details, we 

developed a tentative hypothesis a "scenario', so to speak, which might accommodate the 

known facts. 

We supposed that something was discovered in the Holy Land, either by accident or 

design something of immense import, which aroused the interest of some of Europe's 

most influential noblemen. We further supposed that this discovery involved, directly or 

indirectly, a great deal of potential wealth as well, perhaps, as something else, something 

that had to be kept secret, something which could only be divulged to a small number of 

high-ranking lords. Finally, we supposed that this discovery was reported and discussed 

at the conclave of 1 1 04. 

Immediately thereafter the count of Champagne departed for the Holy 

Land himself, perhaps to verify personally what he had heard, perhaps 

to implement some course of action the foundation, for example, of what 

subsequently became the Order of the Temple. In 1 1 14, if not before, 



Templars were established with the count of Champagne playing some 

crucial role, perhaps acting as guiding spirit and sponsor. By 1 1 15 

money was already flowing back to Europe and into the coffers of the 

Cistercians, who, under Saint Bernard and from their new position of 

strength, endorsed and imparted credibility to the fledgling 

Order of the Temple. 

Under Bernard the Cistercians attained a spiritual ascendancy in Europe. 

Under Hugues de Payen and Andre de Montbard, the Templars attained a military and 

administrative ascendancy in the Holy Land which quickly spread back to Europe. Behind 

the growth of both orders loomed the shadowy presence of uncle and nephew, as well as 

the wealth, influence and patronage of the count of Champagne. These three individuals 

constitute a vital link. They are like markers breaking the surface of history, indicating the 

dim configurations of some elaborate, concealed design. 

If such a design actually existed, it cannot, of course, be ascribed to 

these three men alone. On the contrary, it must have entailed a great 

deal of co-operation from certain other people and a great deal of 

meticulous organisation. Organisation is perhaps the key word; for if 

our hypothesis was correct, it would presuppose a degree of 

organisation amounting to an order in itself a third and secret order 

behind the known and documented 

Orders of the Cistercians and the Temple. Evidence for the existence for such a third 

order was not long in arriving. 

In the meantime, we devoted our attention to the hypothetical "discovery' in the Holy Land 

the speculative basis on which we had established our "scenario'. What might have been 

found there? To what might the Templars, along with Saint Bernard and the count of 

Champagne, have been privy? At the end of their history the Templars kept inviolate the 

secret of their treasure's whereabouts and nature. 

Not even documents survived. If the treasure in question were simply 

financial bullion, for example it would not have been necessary to 

destroy or conceal all records, all rules, all archives. The 

implication is that the Templars had something else in their custody, 

something so precious that not even torture would wring an intimation 

of it from their lips. Wealth alone could not have prompted such 

absolute and unanimous secrecy. Whatever it was had to do with other 


matters, like the Order's attitude towards Jesus. 

On October 13 th , 1307, all Templars throughout France were arrested 


Philippe le Bel's seneschals. But that statement is not quite true. 


Templars of at least one preceptory slipped unscathed through the king's net the 

preceptory of Bezu, adjacent to Rennes-leChateau. How and why did they escape? To 

answer that question, we were compelled to investigate the Order's activities in the vicinity 

of Bezu. Those activities proved to have been fairly extensive. Indeed, there were some 

half dozen preceptories and other holdings in the area, which covered some twenty 

square miles. 

In 1 153 a nobleman of the region a nobleman with Cathar sympathies 

became fourth Grand Master of the Order of the Temple. His name was 

Bertrand de Blanchefort, and his ancestral home was situated on a mountain peak a few 

miles away from both Bezu and Rennes-leChateau. 

Bertrand de 

Blanchefort, who presided over the Order from 1 153 until 1 170, was 

probably the most significant of all Templar Grand Masters. Before his 

regime the 

Order's hierarchy and administrative structure were, at best, nebulous. 

It was Bertrand who transformed the Knights Templar into the superbly 

efficient, well-organised and magnificently disciplined hierarchical 

institution they then became. It was Bertrand who launched their 

involvement in high-level diplomacy and international politics. It 


Bertrand who created for them a major sphere of interest in Europe, and 

particularly in France. And according to the evidence that survives, 

Bertrand's mentor some historians even list him as the Grand Master immediately 

preceding Bertrand was Andre de Montbard. 

Within a few years of the Templars' incorporation, Bertrand had not 

only joined their ranks, but also conferred on them lands in the 

environs of 

Rennes-leChateau and Bezu. And in 1 156, under Bertrand's regime as 


Master, the Order is said to have imported to the area a contingent 


German-speaking miners. These workers were supposedly subjected to a 

rigid, virtually military discipline. They were forbidden to 

fraternise in any way with the local population and were kept strictly 

segregated from the surrounding community. A special judicial body, 

'la Judicature des 


Allemands', was even created to deal with legal technicalities 

pertaining to them. And their alleged task was to work the gold mines 

on the slopes of the mountain at 

Blanchefort gold mines which had been utterly exhausted by the Romans 

nearly a thousand years before. -1s 

During the seventeenth century engineers were commissioned to investigate the 

mineralogical prospects of the area and draw up detailed reports. In the course of his 

report one of them, Cesar d'Arcons, discussed the ruins he had found, remains of the 

German workers' activity. On the basis of his research, he declared that the German 

workers did not seem to have been engaged in mining. 3' In what, then, were they 

engaged? Cesar d'Arcons was unsure smelting perhaps, melting something down, 

constructing something out of metal, perhaps even excavating a subterranean crypt of 

some sort and creating a species of depository. 

Whatever the answer to this enigma, there had been a Templar presence in the vicinity of 

Rennes-leChateau since at least the mid-twelfth century. 

By 1285 there was a major preceptory a few miles from Bezu, at 

Campagnesur-Aude. Yet near the end of the thirteenth century, Pierre 

de Voisins, lord of Bezu and Rennes-leChateau, invited a separate 

detachment of 

Templars to the area, a special detachment from the Aragonese province 


Roussillon.38 This fresh detachment established itself on the summit of the mountain of 

Bezu, erecting a lookout post and a chapel. 

Ostensibly, the 

Roussillon Templars had been invited to Bezu to maintain the security 

of the region and protect the pilgrim route which ran through the 

valley to 

Santiago de Compastela in Spain. But it is unclear why these extra knights should have 

been required. In the first place they cannot have been very numerous not enough to 

make a significant difference. In the second place there were already Templars in the 


Finally, Pierre de 

Voisins had troops of his own, who, together with the Templars already 

there, could guarantee the safety of the environs. Why, then, did 


Roussillon Templars come to Bezu? According to local tradition, they came to spy. And 

to exploit or bury or guard a treasure of some sort. 

Whatever their mysterious mission, they obviously enjoyed some kind of 

special immunity. Alone of all Templars in France, they were left 


unmolested by Philippe le Bel's seneschals on October 13 th , 1307. On 

that fateful day the commander of the Templar contingent at Bezu was a 

Seigneur de Goth .39 And before taking the name of Pope Clement V, the 

archbishop of Bordeaux King 

Philippe's vacillating pawn was Bertrand de Goth. Moreover, the new 

pontiff's mother was Ida de Blanchefort, of the same family as Bertrand 


Blanchefort. Was the pope then privy to some secret entrusted to the 

custody of his family a secret which remained in the Blanchefort family 

until the eighteenth century, when the Abbe Antoine Bigou, cure of 

Rennes-leChateau and confessor to Marie de Blanchefort, composed the 

parchments found by 

Sauniere? If this were the case, the pope might well have extended some sort of 

immunity to his relative commanding the Templars at Bezu. 

The history of the Templars near Rennes-leChateau was clearly as fraught with perplexing 

enigmas as the history of the Order in general. Indeed, there were a number of factors 

the role of Bertrand de Blanchefort, for example which seemed to constitute a discernible 

link between the general and the more localised enigmas. 

In the meantime, however, we were confronted with a daunting array of coincidences 

coincidences too numerous to be truly coincidental. Were we in fact dealing with a 

calculated pattern? If so, the obvious question was who devised it, for patterns of such 

intricacy do not devise themselves. 

All the evidence available to us pointed to meticulous planning and 

careful organisation so much so that increasingly we suspected there 

must be a specific group of individuals, perhaps comprising an order of 

some sort, working assiduously behind the scenes. We did not have to 

seek confirmation for the existence of such an order. The confirmation 


thrust itself upon us. 4 Secret Documents 

Confirmation of a third order an order behind both the Templars and 


Cistercians thrust itself upon us. At first, however, we could not take it seriously. It 

seemed to issue from too unreliable, too vague and nebulous a source. Until we could 

authenticate the veracity of this source, we could not believe its claims. 

In 1956 a series of hooks, articles, pamphlets and other documents 

relating to Berenger Sauniere and the enigma of Rennes-leChateau began 

to appear in 

France. This material has steadily proliferated, and is now voluminous. 

Indeed, it has come to constitute the basis for a veritable 'industry'. And its sheer quantity, 

as well as the effort and resources involved in producing and disseminating it, implicitly 

attest to something of immense but as yet unexplained import. 

Not surprisingly, the affair has served to whet the appetites of numerous independent 

researchers like ourselves, whose works have added to the corpus of material available. 

The original material, however, seems to have issued from a single specific source. 

Someone clearly has a vested interest in 'promoting' Rennes-leChateau, in drawing public 

attention to the story, in generating publicity and further investigation. Whatever else it 

might be, this vested interest does not appear to be financial. On the contrary, it would 

appear to be more in the order of propaganda propaganda which establishes credibility for 

something. And whoever the individuals responsible for this propaganda may be, they 

have endeavoured to focus spotlights on certain issues while keeping themselves 

scrupulously in the shadows. 

Since 1956 a quantity of relevant material has been deliberately and systematically 

'leaked', in a piecemeal fashion, fragment by fragment. 

Most of these fragments purport to issue, implicitly or explicitly, 


from some 'privileged' or "inside' source. Most contain additional 

information, which supplements what was known before and thus contributes to the 

overall jigsaw. Neither the import nor the meaning of the overall jigsaw has yet been 

made clear, however. Instead, every new snippet of information has done more to 

intensify than to dispel the mystery. The result has been an ever-proliferating network of 

seductive allusions, provocative hints, suggestive cross-references and connections. In 

confronting the welter of data now available, the reader may well feel he is being toyed 

with, or being ingeniously and skilfully led from conclusion to conclusion by successive 

carrots dangled before his nose. And underlying it all is the constant, pervasive intimation 

of a secret a secret of monumental and explosive proportions. 

The material disseminated since 1956 has taken a number of forms. Some 

of it has appeared in popular, even best-selling books, more or less 

sensational, more or less cryptically teasing. Thus, for example, 

Gerard de 

Sede has produced a sequence of works on such apparently divergent 

topics as the Cathars, the Templars, the Merovingian dynasty, the 


Sauniere and Rennes-leChateau. In these works, M. de Sede is often arch, coy, 

deliberately mystifying and coquettishly evasive. His tone implies constantly that he 

knows more than he is saying perhaps a device for concealing that he does not know as 

much as he pretends. But his books contain enough verifiable details to forge a link 

between their respective themes. Whatever else one may think of M. de Sede, he 

effectively establishes that the diverse subjects to which he addresses himself somehow 

overlap and are interconnected. 

On the other hand, we could not but suspect that M. de Sede's work drew 

heavily on information provided by an informant and indeed, M. de Sede 

more or less acknowledges as much himself. Quite by accident, we 

learned who this informant was. In 1 971 , when we embarked on our first 

BBC film on 

Rennes-leChateau, we wrote to M. de Sede's Paris publisher for certain visual material. 

The photographs we requested were accordingly posted to us. Each of them, on the 

back, was stamped "Plantard'. At that time the name meant little enough to us. But the 

appendix to one of M. 


de Sede's books consisted of an interview with one Pierre Plantard. 

And we subsequently obtained evidence that Pierre 

Plantard had been involved with certain of M. de Sede's works. 


Pierre Plantard began to emerge as one of the dominant figures in our investigation. 

The information disseminated since 1956 has not always been contained 

in as popular and accessible a form as M. de Sede's. Some of it has 

appeared in weighty, daunting, even pedantic tomes, diametrically 

opposed to M. de 

Sede's journalistic approach. One such work was produced by Rene 

Descadeillas, former Director of the Municipal Library of Carcassonne. 

M. Descadeillas's book is strenuously anti-sensational. Devoted to the 

history of Rennes-leChateau and its environs, it contains a plethora of 

social and economic minutiae for example, the births, deaths, 

marriages" finances, taxes and public works between the years 1730 and 

1820." On the whole, it could not possibly differ more from the 

mass-market books of M. de Sede which M. Descadeillas elsewhere 

subjects to scathing criticism. 2 

In addition to published books, including some which have been published privately, there 

have been a number of articles in newspapers and magazines. There have been 

interviews with various individuals claiming to be conversant with one or another facet of 

the mystery. But the most interesting rind important information has not, for the most part, 

appeared in book form. Most of it has surfaced elsewhere in documents and pamphlets 

not intended for general circulation. Many of these documents and pamphlets have been 

deposited, in limited, privately printed editions, at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. 

They seem to have been produced very cheaply. Some, in fact, are mere typewritten 

pages, photo offset and reproduced on an office duplicator. 

Even more than the marketed works, this body of ephemera seems to have 

issued from the same source. By means of cryptic asides and footnotes 

pertaining to Sauniere, Rennes-leChateau, 

Poussin, the Merovingian dynasty and other themes, each piece of it 

complements, enlarges on and confirms the others. In most cases the 

ephemera is of uncertain authorship, appearing under a variety of 

transparent, even 'cute' pseudonyms Madeleine Blancassal, for 


Nicolas Beaucean, Jean Delaude and Antoine 1"Ermite. 


"Madeleine', of course, refers to Marie-Madeleine, the Magdalene, to 

whom the church at Rennes-leChateau is dedicated and to whom Sauniere 

consecrated his tower, the Tour Magdala. "Blancassal' is formed from 

the names of two small rivers that converge near the village of 

Rennes-les-Bains the Blanque and the Sals. "Beaucean' is a variation 

of "Beauseanf, the official battle-cry and battle-standard of the 

Knights Templar. "Jean 

Delaude' is "Jean de 1"Aude' or "John of the Aude', the department in 


Rennes-leChateau is situated. And "Antoine VErmite' is Saint Anthony 


Hermit, whose statue adorns the church at Rennes-leChateau and whose feast day is 

January 17 th -the date on Marie de Blanchefort's tombstone and the date on which 

Sauniere suffered his fatal stroke. 

The work ascribed to Madeleine Blancassal is entitled Les Descendants 

merovingiens et 1'enigme du Razes wisigoth ("The Merovingian 

Descendants and the Enigma of the Visigoth Razes') Razes being the old 

name for 

Sauniere's region. According to its title page, this work was 

originally published in German and translated into French by Walter 

Celse-Nazaire another pseudonym compounded from Saints Celse and 

Nazaire, to whom the church at Rennes-les-Bains is dedicated. And 

according to the title page, the publisher of the work was the Grande 

Loge Alpina, the supreme Masonic lodge of Switzerland -the Swiss 

equivalent of Grand Lodge in Britain or 

Grand Orient in France. There is no indication as to why a modern 

Masonic lodge should display such interest in the mystery surrounding 

an obscure nineteenth-century French priest and the history of his 

parish a millennium and a half ago. One of our colleagues and an 

independent researcher both questioned Alpina officials. They 

disclaimed all knowledge not only of the work's publication, but also 

of its existence. Yet an independent researcher claims personally to 

have seen the work on the shelves of 

Alpina's library. 3 And subsequently we discovered that the Alpina imprint appeared on two 

other pamphlets as well. 

Of all the privately published documents deposited in the 


Nationale, the most important is a compilation of papers entitled 

collectively Dossiers secrets ("Secret Dossiers'). Catalogued under 


numberlm' 249, this compilation is now on microfiche. Until recently, 

however, it comprised a thin, nondescript volume, a species of folder with stiff covers 

which contained a loose assemblage of ostensibly unrelated items news clippings, letters 

pasted to backing-sheets, pamphlets, numerous genealogical trees and the odd printed 

page apparently extracted from the body of some other work. Periodically some of the 

individual pages would be removed. At different times other pages would be freshly 

inserted. On certain pages additions and corrections would sometimes be made in a 

minuscule longhand. At a later date, these pages would be replaced by new ones, printed 

and incorporating all previous emendations. 

The bulk of the Dossiers, which consists of genealogical trees, is ascribed to one Henri 

Lobineau, whose name appears on the title page. 

Two additional items in the folder declare that Henri Lobineau is yet 

another pseudonym derived perhaps from a street, the Rue Lobineau, 

which runs outside Saint 

Sulpice in Paris and that the genealogies are actually the work of a man named Leo 

Schidlof, an Austrian historian and antiquarian who purportedly lived in Switzerland and 

died in 1 966. On the basis of this information we undertook to learn what we could about 

Leo Schidlof. 

In 1978 we managed to locate Leo Schidlofs daughter, who was living 


England. Her father, she said, was indeed Austrian. He was not a genealogist, historian 

or antiquarian, however, but an expert and dealer in miniatures, who had written two 

works on the subject. In 1948 he had settled in London, where he lived until his death in 

Vienna in 1966 the year and place specified in the Dossiers secrets. 

Miss Schidlof vehemently maintained that her father had never had any 

interest in genealogies, the Merovingian dynasty, or mysterious 

goings-on in the south of France. And yet, she continued, certain 

people obviously believed he had. During the 1960s, for example, he 

had received numerous letters and telephone calls from unidentified 

individuals in both Europe and the United States, who wished to meet 

with him and discuss matters of which he had no knowledge whatever. On 


his death in 1966 there was another barrage of messages, most of them 

inquiring about his papers. 

Whatever the affair in which Miss Schidlofs father had become unwittingly embroiled, it 

seemed to have struck a sensitive chord with the American government. In 1946 -a 

decade before the Dossiers secrets are said to have been compiled Leo Schidlof applied 

for a visa to enter the United States. 

The application was refused, on grounds of suspected espionage or some 

other form of clandestine activity. Eventually the matter seems to 

have been sorted out, the visa issued and Leo Schidlof was admitted to 


States. It may all have been a typical bureaucratic mix-up. But 


Schidlof seemed to suspect that it was somehow connected with the arcane 

preoccupations so perplexingly ascribed to her father. 

Miss Schidlofs story gave us pause. The refusal of an American visa 

might well have been more than coincidental, for there were, among the 

papers in the Dossiers secrets, references that linked the name Leo 

Schidlof with some sort of international espionage. In the meantime, 

however, a new pamphlet had appeared in Paris which, during the months 

that followed, was confirmed by other sources. According to this 

pamphlet the elusive 

Henri Lobineau was not Leo Schidlof after all, but a French aristocrat of distinguished 

lineage, Comte Henri de Lenoncourt. 

The question of Lobineau's real identity was not the only enigma 

associated with the Dossiers secrets. There was also an item which 

referred to "Leo 

Schidlofs leather briefcase'. This briefcase supposedly contained a number of secret 

papers relating to Rennes-leChateau between 1600 and 1800. 

Shortly after Schidlofs death, the briefcase was said to have passed 

into the hands of a courier, a certain Fakhar ul Islam who, in February 

1967, was to rendezvous in East Germany with an 'agent delegated by 

Geneva' and entrust it to him. Before the' transaction could be 

effected, however, 

Fakhar ul Islam was reportedly expelled from East Germany and returned 


Paris "to await further orders'. On February 20 th , 1967, his body was found on the railway 

tracks at Melun, having been hurled from the Paris-Geneva express. The briefcase had 

supposedly vanished. 

We set out to check this lurid story as far as we could. A series of 


articles in French newspapers of February 21 st did confirm most of 

it." A decapitated body had indeed been found on the tracks at Melun. 

It was identified as that of a young Pakistani named Fakhar ul Islam. For reasons that 

remained obscure, the dead man had been expelled from East Germany and was 

travelling from Paris to Geneva engaged, it appeared, in some form of espionage. 

According to the newspaper reports, the authorities suspected foul play, and the affair was 

being investigated by the DST (Directory of Territorial Surveillance, or CounterEspionage). 

On the other hand, the newspapers made no mention of Leo Schidlof, a 

leather briefcase or anything else that might connect the occurrence 

with the mystery of RennesleChateau. As a result, we found ourselves 

confronted with a number of questions. On the one hand, it was 

possible that Fakhar ul 

Islam's death was linked with Rennes-leChateau that, the item in the 

Dossiers secrets in fact drew upon "inside information' inaccessible to the newspapers. 

On the other hand the item in the Dossiers secrets might have been deliberate and 

spurious mystification. One need only find any unexplained or suspicious death and 

ascribe it, after the fact, to one's own hobby-horse. But if this were indeed the case, what 

was the purpose of the exercise? Why should someone deliberately try to create an 

atmosphere of sinister intrigue around Rennes-leChateau? What might be gained by the 

creation of such an atmosphere? And who might gain from it? 

These questions perplexed us all the more because Fakhar ul Islam's death was not, 

apparently, an isolated occurrence. Less than a month later another privately printed work 

was deposited in the Bibliotheque Nationale. 

It was called Le Serpent rouge ("The Red Serpent') and dated, symbolically and 

significantly enough, January 17 th . Its title page ascribed it to three authors Pierre 

Feugere, Louis Saint-Maxent and Gaston de Koker. 

Le Serpent rouge is a singular work. It contains one Merovingian genealogy and two 

maps of France in Merovingian times, along with a cursory commentary. It also contains a 

ground plan of Saint Sulpice in Paris, which delineates the chapels of the church's various 


But the bulk of the text consists of thirteen short prose poems of 


impressive literary quality many of them reminiscent of the work of 

and each corresponds to a sign of the Zodiac a zodiac of thirteen 

signs, with the thirteenth, Ophiuchus or the Serpent 

Holder, inserted between Scorpio and Sagittarius. 

Narrated in the first person, the thirteen prose poems are a type of 

symbolic: or allegorical pilgrimage, commencing with Aquarius and 

ending with Capricorn which, as the text explicitly states, presides 


January 1 7 th . In the otherwise cryptic text there are familiar 

references -to the Blanchefort family, to the decorations in the church 


Rennes-leChateau, to some of Sauniere's inscriptions there, to Poussin 

and the painting of "Les Bergers d'Arcadie', to the motto on the tomb, 

"Et in 

Arcadia Ego'. At one point, there is mention of a red snake, "cited in 

the parchments', uncoiling across the centuries an explicit allusion, 

it would seem, to a bloodline or a lineage. And for the astrological 

sign of 

Leo, there is an enigmatic paragraph worth quoting in its entirety: 

From she whom I desire to liberate, there wafts towards me the fragrance of the perfume 

which impregnates the Sepulchre. Formerly, some named her: 

Isis, queen of all sources benevolent. COME UNTO ME ALL YE WHO 




celebrated vase filled with healing balm. The initiated know her true name: NOTRE 


The implications of this paragraph are extremely interesting. Isis, of 

course, is the Egyptian Mother Goddess, patroness of mysteries the 


Queen' in her benevolent aspects, the "Black Queen' in her malevolent ones. 

Numerous writers, on mythology, anthropology, psychology, theology, 

have traced the cult of the Mother Goddess from pagan times to the 

Christian epoch. And according to these writers she is said to have 

survived under 

Christianity in the guise of the Virgin Mary the "Queen of Heaven', 


Saint Bernard called her, a designation applied in the Old Testament to 


Mother Goddess Astarte, the Phoenician equivalent of Isis. But 

according to the text in Le Serpent rouge, the Mother Goddess of 

Christianity would not appear to be the Virgin. On the contrary, she 

would appear to be the 


Magdalene to whom the church at Rennes-leChateau is dedicated and to 

whom Sauniere consecrated his tower. Moreover, the text would seem to 

imply that "Notre 

Dame' does not apply to the Virgin either. That resonant title 

conferred on all the great cathedrals of France would also seem to 

refer to the 

Magdalene. But why should the Magdalene be revered as "Our Lady' and, still more, as a 

Mother Goddess? Maternity is the last thing generally associated with the Magdalene. In 

popular Christian tradition she is a prostitute who finds redemption by apprenticing herself 

to Jesus. And she figures most noticeably in the Fourth Gospel, where she is the first 

person to behold Jesus after the Resurrection. In consequence she is extolled as a saint, 

especially in France where, according to medieval legends, she is said to have brought 

the Holy Grail. And indeed the 'vase filled with healing balm' might well be intended to 

suggest the Grail. But to enshrine the Magdalene in the place usually reserved for the 

Virgin would seem, at very least, to be heretical. 

Whatever their point, the authors of Le Serpent rouge -or, rather, the alleged authors met 

with a fate as gruesome as that of Fakhar ul Islam. 

On March 6 th , 1967, Louis Saint-Maxent and Gaston de Koker were found hanged. And 

the following day, March 7 th , Pierre Feugere was found hanged as well. 

One might immediately assume, of course, that these deaths were in some 

way connected with the composition and public release of Le Serpent 

rouge. As in the case of Fakhar ul Islam, however, we could not 

discount an alternative explanation. If one wished to engender an aura 

of sinister mystery, it would be easy enough to do. One need only comb 

the newspapers until one found a suspicious death or, in this instance, 

three suspicious deaths. After the fact, one might then append the 

names of the deceased to a pamphlet of one's own concoction and deposit 

that pamphlet in the 

Bibliotheque Nationale with an earlier date (January 17 th ) on the title 

page. It would be virtually impossible to expose such a hoax, which 

would certainly produce the desired intimation of foul play. But why 

perpetrate such a hoax at all? Why should someone want to invoke an 

aura of violence, murder and intrigue? Such a ploy would hardly deter 


investigators. On the contrary, it would only further attract them. 

If, on the other hand, we were not dealing with a hoax, there were 

still a number of baffling questions. Were we to believe, for example, 

that the three hanged men were suicides or victims of murder? Suicide, 

in the circumstances, would seem to make little sense And murder would 

not seem to make much more. One could understand three people being 

dispatched lest they divulge certain explosive information. But in 

this case the information had already been divulged, already deposited 

in the 

Bibliotheque Nationale. Could the murders if that was what they were have been a form 

of punishment, of retribution? Or perhaps a means of precluding any subsequent 

indiscretions? Neither of these explanations is satisfactory. If one is angered by the 

disclosure of certain information, or if one wishes to forestall additional disclosures, one 

does not attract attention to the matter by committing a trio of lurid and sensational 

murders unless one is reasonably confident that there will be no very assiduous inquiry. 

Our own adventures in the course of our investigation were mercifully 

less dramatic, but equally mystifying. In our research, for example, 

we had encountered repeated references to a work by one Antoine 

VErmite entitled 

Un Tresor merovingien a Rennes-leChateau ("A Merovingian Treasure at 

Rennes-leChateau'). We endeavoured to locate this work and quickly found it listed in the 

Bibliotheque Nationale catalogue; but it proved inordinately difficult to obtain. Every day, 

for a week, we went to the library and filled out the requisite fiche requesting the work. On 

each occasion the fiche was returned marked "communique' indicating that the work was 

being used by someone else. In itself this was not necessarily unusual. 

After a fortnight, however, it began to become so and exasperating as well, for we could 

not remain in Paris much longer. We sought the assistance of a librarian. He told us the 

book would be 'communique' for three months -an extremely unusual situation and that 

we could not order it in advance of its return. 

In England not long afterwards a friend of ours announced that she was 

going to Paris for a holiday. We accordingly asked her to try to 

obtain the elusive work of Antoine TErmite and at least make a note of 


what it contained. At the Bibliotheque Nationale, she requested the 

book. Her fiche was not even returned. The next day she tried again, and with the same 


When we were next in Paris, some four months later, we made another attempt. Our fiche 

was again returned marked "communique'. At this point, we began to feel the game had 

been somewhat overplayed and began to play one of our own. We made our way down 

the catalogue room, adjacent to the 'stacks' which are, of course, inaccessible to the 

public. Finding an elderly and kindly looking library assistant, we assumed the role of 

bumbling English tourists with Neanderthal command of French. Asking his help, we 

explained that we were seeking a particular work but were unable to obtain it, no doubt 

because of our imperfect understanding of the library's procedures. 

The genial old gentleman agreed to help. We gave him the work's catalogue number and 

he disappeared into the "stacks'. When he emerged, he apologised, saying there was 

nothing he could do the book had been stolen. What was more, he added, a compatriot of 

ours was apparently responsible for the theft an Englishwoman. After some badgering, he 

consented to give us her name. It was that of our friend! 

On returning to England again, we sought the assistance of the library service in London, 

and they agreed to look into the bizarre affair. On our behalf, the National Central Library 

wrote to the Bibliotheque Nationale requesting an explanation for what appeared to be 

deliberate obstruction of legitimate research. No explanation was forthcoming. Shortly 

thereafter, however, a Xerox copy of Antoine 1"Ermite's work was at last dispatched to us 

-along with emphatic instructions that it be returned immediately. This in itself was 

extremely singular, for libraries do not generally request return of Xerox copies. Such 

copies are usually deemed mere waste paper and disposed of accordingly. 

The work, when it was finally in our hands, proved distinctly disappointing hardly worth the 

complicated business of obtaining; it. 

Like Madeleine 

Blancassal's work, it bore the imprint of the Swiss Grande Loge Alpina. 

But it said nothing in any way new. Very briefly, it recapitulated the 

history of the Comte of Razes, of RennesleChateau and Berenger 


Sauniere. In short, it rehashed all the details with which we had 

long been familiar. There seemed to be no imaginable reason why anyone 

should have been using it, and keeping it "communique', for a solid 

week. Nor did there seem any imaginable reason for withholding it from 

us. But most puzzling of all, the work itself was not original. With 

the exception of a few words altered here and there, it was a verbatim 

text, reset and reprinted, of a chapter in a popular paperback a facile 

best-seller, available at news-stands for a few francs, on lost 

treasures throughout the world. Either Antoine 1 "Ermite had 

shamelessly plagiarised the published book, or the published book had 


Antoine 1 "Ermite. 

Such occurrences are typical of the mystification that has attended the 

material which, since 1956, has been appearing fragment by fragment 


France. Other researchers have encountered similar enigmas. Ostensibly plausible 

names have proved to be pseudonyms. Addresses, including addresses of publishing 

houses and organisations, have proved not to exist. References have been cited to books 

which no one, to our knowledge, has ever seen. 

Documents have disappeared, been altered, or inexplicably mis catalogued in the 

Bibilotheque Nationale. At times one is tempted to suspect a practical joke. If so, 

however, it is a practical joke on an enormous scale, involving an impressive array of 

resources financial and otherwise. And whoever might be perpetrating such a joke would 

seem to be taking it very seriously indeed. 

In the meantime new material has continued to appear, with the familiar 

themes recurring like leitmotifs -Sauni6re, Rennes-leChateau, Poussin, 

"Les Bergers d'Arcadie', the Knights Templar, Dagobert II and the 

Merovingian dynasty. Allusions to viticulture the grafting of vines 

figure prominently, presumably in some allegorical sense. At the same 

time, more and more information has been added. The identification of 


Lobineau as the count of Lenoncourt is one example. Another is an increasing but 

unexplained insistence on the significance of the Magdalene. 

And two other locations have been stressed repeatedly, assuming a 

status now apparently commensurate with Rennes-leChateau. One of these 


is Gisors, a fortress in Normandy which was of vital strategic and 

political importance at the peak of the 

Crusades. The other is Stenay, once called Satanicum, on the fringe of 


Ardennes the old capital of the Merovingian dynasty, near which 


II was assassinated in 679. 

The corpus of material now available cannot be adequately reviewed or discussed in 

these pages. It is too dense, too confusing, too disconnected, most of all too copious. But 

from this ever-proliferating welter of information, certain key points emerge which 

constitute a foundation for further research. They are presented as indisputable historical 

fact, and can be summarised as follows: 1) 

There was a secret order behind the Knights Templar, which created 


Templars as its military and administrative arm. This order, which has 

functioned under a variety of names, is most frequently known as the 

Prieure de Sion ("Priory of Sion'). 2) The Prieure de Sion has been 

directed by a sequence of Grand Masters whose names are among the most 

illustrious in Western history and culture. 3) Although the Knights 

Templar were destroyed and dissolved between 1307 and 1314, the Prieure 

de Sion remained unscathed. Although itself periodically torn by 

internecine and factional strife, it has continued to function through 

the centuries. Acting in the shadows, behind the scenes, it has 

orchestrated certain of the critical events in Western history. 4) The 

Prieure de Sion exists today and is still operative. It is influential 

and plays a role in high-level international affairs, as well as in the 

domestic affairs of certain European countries. To some significant 

extent it is responsible for the body of information disseminated since 

1956. 5) The avowed and declared objective of the Prieure de Sion is 

the restoration of the Merovingian dynasty and bloodline to the throne 

not only of France, but to the thrones of other European nations as 

well. 6) The restoration of the Merovingian dynasty is sanctioned and 

justifiable, both legally and morally. Although deposed in the eighth 

century, the Merovingian bloodline did not become extinct. On the 

contrary it perpetuated itself in a direct line from Dagobert II and 

his son, 


Sigisbert IV. By dint of dynastic alliances and intermarriages, this 

line came to include Godfroi de Bouillon, who captured Jerusalem in 

1099, and various other noble and royal families, past and present 

Blanchefort, Gisors, 

Saint Clair (Sinclair in England), Montesquieu, Montpezat, Poher, 


Plantard and Habsburg-Lorraine. At present, the Merovingian bloodline enjoys a 

legitimate claim to its rightful heritage. 

Here, in the so-called Prieure de Sion, was a possible explanation for the reference to 

"Sion' in the parchments found by Berenger Sauniere. Here, too, was an explanation for 

the curious signature, "P.S." which appeared on one of those parchments, and on the 

tombstone of Marie de Blanchefort. 

Nevertheless, we were extremely sceptical, like most people, about 'conspiracy theories of 

history'; and most of the above assertions struck us as irrelevant, improbable and/or 

absurd. But the fact remained that certain people were promulgating them, and doing so 

quite seriously; quite seriously and, there was reason to believe, from positions of 

considerable power. And whatever the truth of the assertions, they were clearly 

connected in some way with the mystery surrounding Sauniere and Rennes-le Chateau. 

We, therefore, embarked on a systematic examination of what we had begun to call, 

ironically, the "Prieure documents', and of the assertions they contained. We 

endeavoured to subject these assertions to careful critical scrutiny and determine whether 

they could be in any way substantiated. We did so with a cynical, almost derisory 

scepticism, fully convinced the outlandish claims would wither under even cursory 

investigation. Although we could not know it at the time, we were to be greatly surprised. 


Two The Secret Society 


5 The Order Behind the Scenes 

We had already suspected the existence of a group of individuals, if not a coherent 

"order', behind the Knights Templar. The claim that the Temple was created by the 

Prieure de Sion thus seemed slightly more plausible than the other assertions in the 

"Prieure documents'. It was with this claim, therefore, that we started our examination. 

As early as 1962 the Prieure de Sion had been mentioned, briefly, 

cryptically and in passing, in a work by Gerard de Sede. The first 

detailed reference to it that we found, however, was a single page in 

the Dossiers secrets. At the top of this page there is a quotation 

from Rene Grousset, one of the foremost twentieth-century authorities 

on the Crusades, whose monumental opus on the subject, published during 

the 1930s, is regarded as a seminal work by such modern historians as 

Sir Steven Runciman. The quotation refers to Baudouin I, younger 

brother of Godfroi de Bouillon, 

Duke of Lorraine and conqueror of the Holy Land. On Godfroi's death, 

Baudouin accepted the crown offered him and thereby became the first 

official king of Jerusalem. According to Rene Grousset, there existed, 

through Bau_douin I, a "royal tradition'. And because it was "founded 

on the rock of Sion'," this tradition was "equal' to the reigning 

dynasties in 

Europe the Capetian dynasty of France, the Anglo Norman (Plantagenet) 

dynasty of England, the Hohenstauffen and Habsburg dynasties which 

presided over Germany and the old Holy Roman Empire. But Baudouin and 

his descendants were elected kings, not kings by blood. Why, then, 


Grousset speak of a 'royal tradition' which "existed through' him? 

Grousset himself does not explain. Nor does he explain why this 

tradition, because it was "founded on the rock of Sion', should be 


"equal' to the foremost dynasties of Europe. On the page in the 
Dossiers secrets Grousset's quotation is followed by an allusion to the 
mysterious Prieure de Sion or Ordre de Sion, as it was apparently 
called at the time. According to the text, the Ordre de Sion was 
founded by Godfroi de Bouillon in 1090, nine years before the conquest 

Jerusalem although there are other "Prieure documents' which give the 
founding date as 1099. According to the text, Baudouin, Godfroi's 
younger brother, 'owed his throne' to the Order. And according to the 
text, the 

Order's official seat, or 'headquarters', was a specific abbey the 
Abbey of Notre Dame duMont de Sion in Jerusalem. Or perhaps just 

Jerusalem on Mount Sion, the famous 'high hill' just south of the city. 
On consulting all standard twentieth-century works on the Crusades, we found no mention 
whatever of any Ordre de Sion. We therefore undertook to establish whether or not such 
an Order ever existed and whether it could have had the power to confer thrones. To do 
that, we were obliged to rummage through sheaves of antiquated documents and 
charters. We did not just seek explicit references to the Order. We also sought some 
trace of its possible influence and activities. And we endeavoured to confirm whether or 
not there was an abbey called Notre Dame duMont de Sion. 

To the south of Jerusalem looms the 'high hill' of Mount Sion. In 1099, when Jerusalem 
fell to Godfroi de Bouillon's crusaders, there stood on this hill the ruins of an old Byzantine 
basilica, dating supposedly from the fourth century and called 'the Mother of all Churches' 
- a most suggestive title. According to numerous extant charters, chronicles and 
contemporary accounts, an abbey was built on the site of these ruins. It was built at the 
express command of Godfroi de Bouillon. It must have been an imposing edifice, a self- 
contained community. According to one chronicler, writing in 1 1 72, it was extremely well 
fortified, with its own walls, towers and battlements. And this structure was called the 
Abbey of Notre Dame duMont de Sion. 

Someone, obviously, had to occupy the premises. Could they have been 
an autonomous 'order', taking their name from the site itself? Could 
the occupants of the abbey indeed have been the Ordre de Sion? It was 


not unreasonable to assume so. The knights and monks who occupied the 

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also installed by Godfroi, were formed 

into an official and duly constituted 'order' the Order of the Holy 

Sepulchre. The same principle might well have obtained for the 

occupants of the abbey on Mount Sion, and it would seem to have done 

so. According to the leading nineteenth-century expert on the subject, 

the abbey 'was inhabited by a chapter of Augustinian canons, charged 

with serving the sanctuaries under the direction of an abbot. The 

community assumed the double name of 

"Sainte-Marie duMont Syon et du Saint-Esprit' 1.12 And another 

historian, writing in 1698, is more explicit still: "There were in 

Jerusalem during the 

Crusades .. . knights attached to the Abbey of Notre Dame de Sion who 

took the name of "Chevaliers de 1 "Ordre de Notre Dame de Sion' 1.13 

If this were not sufficient confirmation, we also discovered documents 

of the period original documents -bearing the seal and signature of one 

or another prior of "Notre Dame de Sion'. There is a charter, for 

example, signed by a Prior Arnaldus and dated July 1 9 th , 1 1 1 6.4 On 

another charter, dated May 2 nd , 1 125, Arnaldus's name appears in 

conjunction with that of 

Hugues de Payen, first Grand Master of the "Temple. 5 

So far the "Prieure documents' had proved valid, and we could assert that an Ordre de 

Sion did exist by the turn of the twelfth century. 

Whether or not the Order had actually been formed earlier, however, 

remained an open question. There is no consistency about which comes 

first, an order, or the premises in which it is housed. The 

Cistercians, for instance, "took their name from a specific place, 

Citeaux. On the other hand, the Franciscans and 

Benedictines to cite but two examples took their names from individuals, and pre-dated 

any fixed abode. The most we could say, therefore, was that an abbey existed by 1 100 

and housed an order of the same name which may have been formed earlier. 

The "Prieure documents' imply that it was, and there is some evidence 

to suggest, albeit vaguely and obliquely, that this may indeed have 

been the case. It is known that in 1070, twenty-nine years before the 

First Crusade, a specific band of monks, from Calabria in southern 

Italy, arrived in the vicinity of the Ardennes Forest, part of Godfroi 

de Bouillon's domains. 6 


According to Gerard de Sede, this band of monks was led by an 

individual called "Ursus' - a name which the "Prieure documents' consistently associate 

with the Merovingian bloodline. On their arrival in the Ardennes, the Calabrian monks 

obtained the patronage of Mathilde de Toscane, Duchess of Lorraine who was Godfroi de 

Bouillon's aunt and, in effect, foster-mother. From Mathilde the monks received a tract of 

land at Orval, not far from Stenay, where Dagobert II had been assassinated some five 

hundred years earlier. Here an abbey was established to house them. Nevertheless they 

did not remain at Orval very long. By 1 108 they had mysteriously disappeared, and no 

record of their whereabouts survives. Tradition says they returned to Calabria. Orval, by 

1131, had become one of the fiefs owned by Saint Bernard. 

Before their departure from Orval, however, the Calabrian monks may 

have left a crucial mark on Western history. According to Gerard de 

Sede, at least, they included the man subsequently known as Peter the 

Hermit. If this is so, it would be extremely significant, for Peter 

the Hermit is often believed to have been Godfroi de Bouillon's 

personal tutor." Nor is that his only claim to fame. In 1095, along 

with Pope Urban II, Peter made himself known throughout Christendom by 

charismatic ally preaching the need for a crusade a holy war which 

would reclaim Christ's sepulchre and the 

Holy Land from the hands of the Muslim infidel. Today Peter the Hermit is regarded as 

one of the chief instigators of the Crusades. 

On the basis of hints intimated in the "Prieure documents', we began to 

wonder whether there might have been some sort of shadowy continuity 

between the monks of Orval, Peter the Hermit and the Ordre de Sion. It 

would certainly seem that the monks at Orval were not just a random 

band of itinerant religious devotees. On the contrary their movements 

their collective arrival in the Ardennes from Calabria and their 

mysterious disappearance en masse attest to some kind of cohesion, some 

kind of organisation and perhaps a permanent base somewhere. And if 

Peter were a member of this band of monks, his preaching of a crusade 

might have been a manifestation not of rampant fanaticism, but of 

calculated policy. If he was Godfroi's personal tutor, moreover, he 


might well have played some role in convincing his pupil to embark for 


Holy Land. And when the monks vanished from Orval, they might not have 

returned to Calabria after all. They might have established themselves 


Jerusalem, perhaps in the Abbey of Notre Dame de Sion. 

This, of course, was only a speculative hypothesis, with no documentary 

confirmation. Again, however, we soon found fragments of 

circumstantial evidence to support it. When Godfroi de Bouillon 

embarked for the Holy 

Land, he is known to have been accompanied by an entourage of anonymous figures who 

acted as advisors and administrators the equivalent, in effect, of a modern general staff. 

But Godfroi's was not the only Christian army to embark for Palestine. There were no less 

than three others, each commanded by an illustrious and influential Western potentate. If 

the crusade proved successful, if Jerusalem did fall and a Frankish kingdom were 

established, any one of these four potentates would have been eligible to occupy its 

throne. And yet Godfroi seems to have known beforehand that he would be selected. 

Alone among the European commanders, he renounced his fiefs, sold all his goods and 

made it apparent that the Holy Land, for the duration of his life, would be his domain. 

In 1 099, immediately after the capture of Jerusalem, a group of 

anonymous figures convened in secret conclave. The identity of this 

group has eluded all historical inquiry although Guillaume de Tyre, 

writing three-quarters of a century later, reports that the most 

important of them was 'a certain bishop from Calabria '.8 In any case 

the purpose of the meeting was clear to elect a king of Jerusalem. And 

despite a persuasive claim by Raymond, 

Count of Toulouse, the mysterious and obviously influential electors promptly offered the 

throne to Godfroi de Bouillon. With uncharacteristic modesty, Godfroi declined the title, 

accepting instead that of "Defender of the Holy Sepulchre'. In other words, he was a king 

in everything but name. 

And when he died, in 1 100, his brother, Baudouin, did not hesitate to accept the name as 


Could the mysterious conclave which elected Godfroi ruler have been the 

elusive monks from Orval including perhaps Peter the Hermit, who was in 


the Holy Land at the time and enjoyed considerable authority? And 

could this same conclave have occupied the abbey on Mount Sion? In 

short, could those three ostensibly distinct groups of individuals the 

monks from Orval, the conclave who elected Godfroi and the occupants of 

Notre Dame de Sion -have been one and the same? The possibility cannot 

be proved, but neither can it be dismissed out of hand. And if it is 

true, it would certainly attest to the Ordre de 

Sion's power a power which included the right to confer thrones. 

The Mystery Surrounding the Foundation of the Knights Templar 

The text in the Dossiers secrets goes on to refer to the Order of the 

Temple. The founders of the Temple are specifically listed as, "Hugues 


Payen, Bisol de St. Omer and Hugues, Comte de Champagne, along with 

certain members of the Ordre de Sion, Andre de Montbard, Archambaud de 


Nivard de Montdidier, Gondemar and Rossal'.9 

We were already familiar with Hugues de Payen and Andre de Montbard, 


Bernard's uncle. We were also familiar with Hugues, Count of Champagne 

who donated the land for Saint Bernard's abbey at Clairvaux, became a 

Templar himself in 1124 (pledging fealty to his own vassal) and received from the bishop 

of Chartres the letter quoted in Chapter 3. But although the count of Champagne's 

connection with the Templars was well known, we had never before seen him cited as one 

of their founders. In the Dossiers secrets he is. And Andre de Montbard, Saint Bernard's 

shadowy uncle, is listed as belonging to the Ordre de Sion, in other words to another 

Order, which predates the Order -of the Temple and plays an instrumental role in the 

Temple's creation. 

Nor is that all. The text in the Dossiers secrets states that in March 

1117, Baudouin 1 , 'who owed his throne to Sion', was 'obliged' to 

negotiate the constitution of the Order of the Temple at the site of 

Saint Leonard of Acre. Our own research revealed that Saint Leonard of 

Acre was in fact one of the fiefs of the OFdre de Sion. But we were 

uncertain why Baudouin should have been 'obliged' to negotiate the 

Temple's constitution. In 


French the verb certainly connotes a degree of coercion or pressure. 
And the implication in the Dossiers secrets was that this pressure was 
brought to bear by the Ordre de Sion to whom Baudouin "owed his 
throne'. If this were the case, the 

Ordre de Sion would have been a most influential and powerful organisation an 
organisation which could not only confer thrones, but also, apparently, compel a king to do 
its bidding. 

If the Ordre de Sion was in fact responsible for Godfroi de Bouillon's election, then 
Baudouin, Godfroi's younger brother, would have 'owed his throne' to its influence. As we 
had already discovered, moreover, there was indisputable evidence that the Order of the 
Temple existed, at least in embryonic form, a good four years before the generally 
accepted foundation date of 1 1 1 8. In 1 1 1 7 Baudouin was a sick man, whose death was 
patently imminent. It is therefore possible that the Knights Templar were active, albeit in 
an ex officio capacity, long before 1 1 18 as, say, a military or administrative arm of the 
Ordre de Sion, housed in its fortified abbey. And it is possible that King Baudouin, on his 
deathbed, was compelled by illness, by the Ordre de Sion or by both to grant the 
Templars some official status, to give them a constitution and make them public. 
In researching the Templars we had already begun to discern a web of intricate, elusive 
and provocative connections, the shadowy vestiges perhaps of some ambitious design. 
On the basis of these connections, we had formulated a tentative hypothesis. Whether 
our hypothesis was accurate or not, we could not know; but the vestiges of a design had 
now become even more apparent. We assembled the fragments of the pattern as follows: 
1) In the late eleventh century a mysterious group of monks from Calabria appears in the 
Ardennes, where they are welcomed, patronised and given land at Orval by Godfroi de 
Bouillon's aunt and foster-mother. 2) A member of this group may have been Godfroi's 
personal tutor and may have co-instigated the First Crusade. 3) Some time before 1 108 
the monks at Orval decamp and disappear. Although there is no record of their 
destination, it may well have been Jerusalem. 


Certainly Peter the Hermit embarked for Jerusalem; and if he was one 

of the monks at Orval, it is probable that his brethren later joined 

him. 4) In 1099 Jerusalem falls and Godfroi is offered a throne by an 

anonymous conclave a leader of whom, like the monks of Orval, is of 

Calabrian origin. 5) An abbey is built at Godfroi's behest on Mount 

Sion, which houses an order of the same name as itself an order which 

may comprise the individuals who offered him the throne. 6) By 1 1 14 

the Knights Templar are already active, perhaps as the Ordre de 

Sion's armed entourage; but their constitution is not negotiated until 1117, and they 

themselves are not made public until the following year. 

7) In 1 1 15 Saint Bernard member of the Cistercian Order, then on the 
brink of economic collapse emerges as the pre-eminent spokesman of 
Christendom. And the formerly destitute Cistercians rapidly become one of the most 
prominent, influential and wealthy institutions in Europe. 

8) In 1 131 Saint Bernard receives the abbey of Orval, vacated some 
years before by the monks from Calabria. Orval then becomes a 
Cistercian house. 9) At the same time certain obscure figures seem to 
move constantly in and out of these events, stitching the tapestry 
together in a manner that is not altogether clear. The count of 
Champagne, for example, donates the land for Saint Bernard's abbey at 
Clairvaux, establishes a court at Troyes, whence the Grail romances 
subsequently issue and, in 1114, contemplates joining the Knights 
Templar whose first recorded Grand Master, Hugues de 

Payen, is already his vassal. 10) Andre de Montbard Saint Bernard's 

uncle and an alleged member of the 

Ordre de Sion joins Hugues de Payen in founding the Knights Templar. 

Shortly thereafter Andre's two brothers join Saint Bernard at 

Clairvaux. 1 1 ) Saint Bernard becomes an enthusiastic public relations 

exponent for the 

Templars, contributes to their official incorporation and the 

drawing-up of their rule -which is essentially that of the Cistercians, 

Bernard's own order. 1 2) Between approximately 1115 and 1 1 40, both 

Cistercians and Templars begin to prosper, acquiring vast sums of money 


and tracts of land. Again we could not but wonder whether this 

multitude of intricate connections was indeed wholly coincidental. Were we looking at a 

number of essentially disconnected people, events and phenomena which just 

"happened', at intervals, to overlap and cross each other's paths? Or were we dealing 

with something that was not random or coincidental at all? Were we dealing with a plan of 

some sort, conceived and engineered by some human agency? And could that agency 

have been the Ordre de Sion? 

Could the Ordre de Sion have actually stood behind both Saint Bernard and the Knights 

Templar? And could both have been acting in accordance with some carefully evolved 


Louis VII and the Prieure de Sion 

The "Prieure documents' gave no indication of the Ordre de Sion's activities between 1118 

the public foundation of the Templars and 1 152. 

For the whole of that time, it would seem, the Ordre de Sion remained 

based in the 

Holy Land, in the abbey outside Jerusalem. Then, on his return from 


Second Crusade, Louis VII of France is said to have brought with him 

ninety-five members of the Order. There is no indication of the 

capacity in which they might have attended the king, nor why he should 

have extended his bounty to them. But if the Ordre de Sion was indeed 

the power behind the 

Temple, that would constitute an explanation since Louis VII was heavily indebted to the 

Temple, both for money and military support. 

In any case the 

Ordre de Sion, created half a century previously by Godfroi de Bouillon, in 1 152 

established or re-established a foothold in France. According to the text, sixty two 

members of the Order were installed at the "large priory' of Saint-Samson at Orleans, 

which King Louis had donated to them. Seven were reportedly incorporated into the 

fighting ranks of the Knights Templar. And twenty-six two groups of thirteen each are said 

to have entered the "small Priory of the Mount of Sion', situated at Saint jean le Blanc on 

the outskirts of Orleans. ' 

In trying to authenticate these statements, we suddenly found ourselves 

on readily provable ground. The charters by which Louis VII installed 



Ordre de Sion at Orleans are still extant. Copies have been 

reproduced in a number of sources, and the originals can be seen in the 

municipal archives of Orleans. In the same archives there is also a 

Bull dated 1 178, from Pope Alexander III, which officially confirms the 

Ordre de Sion's possessions. These possessions attest to the Order's 

wealth, power and influence. They include houses and large tracts of 

land in Picardy, in France (including Saint-Samson at 

Orleans), in Lombardy, Sicily, Spain and Calabria, as well, of course, as a number of sites 

in the Holy Land, including Saint Leonard at Acre. 

Until the 

Second World War, in fact, there were in the archives of Orleans" no less than twenty 

charters specifically citing the Ordre de Sion. During the bombing of the city in 1940 all 

but three of these disappeared. 

The "Cutting of the Ehn' at Gisors 

If the "Prieure documents' can be believed, 1 1 88 was a year of crucial 

importance for both Sion and the Knights Templar. A year before, in 


Jerusalem had been lost to the Saracens chiefly through the impetuosity 

and ineptitude of Gerard de Ridefort, Grand Master of the Temple. The 

text in the Dossiers secrets is considerably more severe. It speaks 

not of 

Gerard's impetuosity or ineptitude, but of his "treason' - a very harsh 

word indeed. What constituted this 'treason' is not explained. But as 

a result of it the 'initiates' of Sion are said to have returned en 

masse to France presumably to Orleans. Logically this assertion is 

plausible enough. When 

Jerusalem fell to the Saracens, the abbey on Mount Sion would obviously have fallen as 

well. Deprived of their base in the Holy Land, it would not be surprising if the abbey's 

occupants had sought refuge in France where a new base already existed. 

The events of 1 187 Gerard de Ridefort's 'treason' and the loss of 

Jerusalem seem to have precipitated a disastrous rift between the Ordre 

de Sion and the Order of the Temple. It is not clear precisely why 

this should have occurred; but according to the Dossiers secrets the 

following year witnessed a decisive turning-point in the affairs of 


both orders. In 1 188 a formal separation supposedly occurred between 

the two institutions. The Ordre de Sion, which had created the Knights Templar, now 

washed its hands of its celebrated proteges. The 'parent', in other words, officially 

disowned the 'child'. 

This rupture is said to have been commemorated by a ritual or ceremony of some sort. In 

the Dossiers secrets and other "Prieure documents', it is referred to as "the cutting of the 

elm', and allegedly took place at Gisors. 

Accounts are garbled and obscure, but history and tradition both confirm that something 

extremely odd occurred at Gisors in 1 188 which did involve the cutting of an elm. On the 

land adjacent to the fortress there was a meadow called the Champ Sacre the Sacred 


According to medieval chroniclers, the site had been deemed sacred 

since pre-Christian times, and during the twelfth century had provided 

the setting for numerous meetings between the kings of England and 

France. In the middle of the Sacred Field stood an ancient elm. And 

in 1188, during a meeting between Henry II of 

England and Philippe II of France, for some unknown reason this elm became an object of 

serious, even bloody, contention. 

According to one account, the elm afforded the only shade on the 


Field. It was said to be more than eight hundred years old, and so large that nine men, 

linking hands, could barely encompass its trunk. Under the shade of this tree Henry II and 

his entourage supposedly took shelter, leaving the French monarch, who arrived later, to 

the merciless sunlight. 

By the third day of negotiations French tempers had become frayed by the heat, insults 

were exchanged by the men-at-arms and an arrow flew from the ranks of Henry's Welsh 

mercenaries. This provoked a full-scale onslaught by the French, who greatly 

outnumbered the English. The latter sought refuge within the walls of Gisors itself, while 

the French are said to have cut down the tree in frustration. Philippe II then stormed back 

to Paris in a huff, declaring he had not come to Gisors to play the role of woodcutter. 

The story has a characteristic medieval simplicity and quaintness, 

contenting itself with superficial narrative while hinting between the 

lines at something of greater import explanations and motivations which 

are left unexplored. In itself it would almost seem to be absurd -as 


absurd and possibly apocryphal as, say, the tales associated with the 

founding of the Order of the Garter. 

And yet there is confirmation of the story, if not its specific details, in other accounts. 

According to another chronicle, Philippe seems to have given notice 


Henry that he intended to cut down the tree. Henry supposedly 

responded by reinforcing the trunk of the elm with bands of iron. On 

the following day the French armed themselves and formed a phalanx of 

five squadrons, each commanded by a distinguished lord of the realm, 

who advanced on the elm, accompanied by sling men as well as carpenters 

equipped with axes and hammers. A struggle is said to have ensued, in 

which Richard Coeur de Lion, 

Henry's eldest son and his heir, participated, attempting to protect 

the tree and spilling considerable blood in the process. Nevertheless, 


French held the field at the end of the day, and the tree was cut down. 

This second account implies something more than a petty squabble or minor skirmish. It 

implies a full-scale engagement, involving substantial numbers and possibly substantial 

casualties. Yet no biography of Richard makes much of the affair, still less explores it. 

Again, however, the "Prieure documents' were confirmed by both recorded history and 

tradition to the extent, at least, that a curious dispute did occur at Gisors in 1 188, which 

involved the cutting of an elm. 

There is no external confirmation that this event was related in any 

way to either the 

Knights Templar or the Ordre de Sion. On the other hand, the existing 

accounts of the affair are too vague, too scant, too incomprehensible, 

too contradictory to be accepted as definitive. It is extremely 

probable that 

Templars were present at the incident Richard I was frequently accompanied by knights of 

the Order, and, moreover, Gisors, thirty years before, had been entrusted to the Temple. 

Given the existing evidence, it is certainly possible, if not likely, that the cutting of the elm 

involved something more or something other than the accounts which have been 

preserved for posterity imply. 

Indeed, given the sheer oddness of surviving accounts, it would not be 

surprising if there were something else involved -something overlooked, 

or perhaps never made public, by history, something, in short, of which 


the surviving accounts are a species of allegory, simultaneously 

intimating and concealing an affair of much greater import. 


From 1 188 onwards, the "Prieure documents' maintain, the Knights 

Templar were autonomous no longer under the authority of the Ordre de 

Sion, or acting as its military and administrative arm. From 1 188 

onwards the 

Templars were officially free to pursue their own objectives and ends, 

to follow their own course through the remaining century or so of their 

existence to their grim doom in 1 307. And in the meantime, as of 1 1 88, 


Ordre de Sion is said to have undergone a major administrative restructuring of its own. 

Until 1 188 the Ordre de Sion and the Order of the Temple are said to have shared the 

same Grand Master. Hugues de Payen and Bertrand de Blanchefort, for example, would 

thus have presided over both institutions simultaneously. Commencing in 1 188, however, 

after the 'cutting of the elm', the Ordre de Sion reportedly selected its own Grand Master, 

who had no connection with the Temple. The first such Grand Master, according to the 

"Prieure documents', was Jean de Gisors. 

In 1 188 the Ordre de Sion is also said to have modified its name, adopting the one which 

has allegedly obtained to the present the Prieure de Sion. 

And, as a kind of subtitle, it is said to have adopted the curious name "Ormus'. This 

subtitle was supposedly used until 1306 - a year before the arrest of the French Templars. 

The device for "Ormus' was U. and involves a kind of acrostic or anagram which combines 

a number of key words and symbols. "Ours' means bear in French "Ursus' in Latin, an 

echo, as subsequently became apparent, of Dagobert II and the Merovingian dynasty. 

"Ome' is French for 'elm'. "Or', of course, is 'gold'. And the 'm' which forms the frame 

enclosing the other letters is not only an 'm', but also the astrological sign for Virgo 

connoting, in the language of medieval iconography, Notre Dame. 

Our researches revealed no reference anywhere to a medieval order or 


institution bearing the name "Ormus'. In this case we could find no 
external substantiation for the text in the 

Dossiers secrets, nor even any circumstantial evidence to argue its veracity. On the other 
hand, "Ormus' does occur in two other radically different contexts. It figures in Zoroastrian 
thought and in Gnostic texts, where it is synonymous with the principle of light. And it 
surfaces again among the pedigrees claimed by late eighteenthcentury Freemasonry. 
According to Masonic teachings, Ormus was the name of an Egyptian sage 
and mystic, a Gnostic 'adept' of Alexandria. He lived, supposedly, 
during the early years of the Christian epoch. In A.D. 46 he and six 
of his followers were supposedly converted to a form of Christianity by 
one of Jesus's disciples, Saint Mark in most accounts. From this 
conversion a new sect or order is said to have been born, which fused 
the tenets of early 

Christianity with the teachings of other, even older mystery schools. To our knowledge 
this story cannot be authenticated. At the same time, however, it is certainly plausible. 
During the first century A.D. 

Alexandria was a veritable hotbed of mystical activity, a crucible in 
which Judaic, Mithraic, 

Zoroastrian, Pythagorean, Hermetic and Neo-Platonic doctrines suffused the air and 
combined with innumerable others. Teachers of every conceivable kind abounded; and it 
would hardly be surprising if one of them adopted a name implying the principle of light. 
According to Masonic tradition, in A.D. 46 Ormus is said to have 
conferred on his newly constituted 'order of initiates' a specific 
identifying symbol - a red or a rose cross. Granted, the red cross was 
subsequently to find an echo in the blazon of the Knights Templar, but 
the import of the text in the Dossiers secrets, and in other "Prieure 
documents', is unequivocally clear. One is intended to see in Ormus 
the origins of the so-called 

Rose-Croix, or Rosicrucians. And in 1 188 the Prieure de Sion is said to have adopted a 
second subtitle, in addition to "Ormus'. It is said to have called itself V'Ordre de la Rose- 
Croix Veritas. 

At this point we seemed to be in very questionable territory, and the text in the "Prieure 
documents' began to appear highly suspect. We were familiar with the claims of the 
modern "Rosicrucians' in California and other contemporary organisations, who claim for 
themselves, after the fact, a pedigree harking back to the mists of antiquity which includes 
most of the world's great men. 


An "Order of the Rose-Croix' dating from 1 188 appeared equally 


As Frances Yates had demonstrated convincingly, there is no known 

evidence of any "Rosicrucians' (at least by that name) before the early 

seventeenth century or perhaps the last years of the sixteenth, 'z The 

myth surrounding the legendary order dates from approximately 1605, and 

first gained impetus a decade later with the publication of three 

inflammatory tracts. These tracts, which appeared in 1614, 1615 and 

1616 respectively, proclaimed the existence of a secret brotherhood or 

confraternity of mystical 'initiates', allegedly founded by one 

Christian Rosenkreuz who, it was maintained, was born in 1378 and died, 

at the hoary age of 106, in 1484. Christian Rosenkreuz and his secret 

confraternity are now generally acknowledged to have been fictitious a 

hoax of sorts, devised for some purpose no one has yet satisfactorily 

explained, although it was not without political repercussions at the 

time. Moreover, the author of one of the three tracts, the famous 

Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreuz, which appeared in 1616, is 

now known. He was Johann Valentin Andrea, a 

German writer and theologian living in Wurttemberg, who confessed that he composed 

The Chemical Wedding as a 'ludibrium' - a 'joke', or perhaps a 'comedy' in Dante's and 

Balzac's sense of the word. There is reason to believe that Andrea, or one of his 

associates, composed the other "Roiscrucian' tracts as well; and it is to this source that 

"Roiscrucianism', as it evolved and as one thinks of it today, can be traced. 

If the "Prieure documents' were accurate, however, we would have to reconsider, and 

think in terms of something other than a seventeenth-century hoax. We would have to 

think in terms of a secret order or society that actually existed, a genuine clandestine 

brotherhood or confraternity. It need not have been wholly or even primarily mystical. It 

might well have been largely political. But it would have existed a full 425 years before its 

name ever became public, and a good two centuries before its legendary founder is 

alleged to have lived. 

Again we found no substantiating evidence. Certainly the rose has been 

a mystical symbol from time immemorial, and enjoyed a particular vogue 


during the Middle Ages in the popular Romance of the Rose by jean de 

Meung, for instance, and in Dante's Paradise And the red cross was 

also a traditional symbolic motif. Not only was it the blazon of the 


Templar. It subsequently became the Cross of Saint George and, as such, was adopted 

by the Order of the Garter created some thirty years after the fall of the Temple. But 

though roses and red crosses abounded as symbolic motifs, there was no evidence of an 

institution or an order, still less of a secret society. 

On the other hand, Frances Yates maintains that there were secret societies functioning 

long before the seventeenth-century "Rosicrucians' and that these earlier societies were, 

in fact, "Rosicrucian' in political and philosophical orientation, if not necessarily in name. 13 

Thus, in conversation with one of our researchers, she described Leonardo as a 

"Rosicrucian' using the term as a metaphor to define his values and attitudes. 

Not only that. In 1629, when "Rosicrucian' interest in Europe was at 

its zenith, a man named Robert Denyau, cure of Gisors, composed an 

exhaustive history of Gisors and the Gisors family. In this manuscript 

Denyau states explicitly that the Rose-Croix was founded by jean de 

Gisors in 1 1 88. In other words there is a verbatim seventeenth-century 

confirmation of the claims made by the "Prieure documents'. Granted, 

Denyau's manuscript was composed some four and a half centuries after 

the alleged fact. But it constitutes an extremely important fragment 

of evidence. And the fact that it issues from Gisors renders it all 

the more important. '4 

We were left, however, with no confirmation, only a possibility. But in every respect so far 

the "Prieure documents' had proved astonishingly accurate. Thus it would have been rash 

to dismiss them out of hand. We were not prepared to accept them on blind, 

unquestioning faith. But we did feel obliged to reserve judgment. 

The Prieure at Orleans 

In addition to their more grandiose claims, the "Prieure documents' 

offered information of a very different kind, minutiae so apparently 

trivial and inconsequential that their significance eluded us. At the 


same time the sheer un importance of this information argued in favour 

of its veracity. Quite simply there seemed to be no point in inventing or concocting such 

minor details. And what was more, the authenticity of many of these details could be 


Thus, for example, Girard, abbot of the 'little priory' at Orleans 

between 1 239 and 1 244. is said to have ceded a tract of land at Acre 

to the 

Teutonic Knights. Why this should warrant mention is unclear, but it can be definitively 

established. The actual charter exists, dating from 1239 and bearing Girard's signature. 

Information of a similar, albeit more suggestive, kind is offered on an abbot named Adam, 

who presided over the "little priory' at Orleans in 1 281 . 

In that year, according to the "Prieure documents', Adam ceded a tract 

of land near Orval to the monks then occupying the abbey there 

-Cistercians, who had moved in under the aegis of Saint Bernard a century and a 
half before. We could not find written evidence of this particular transaction, 
but it would seem plausible enough there are charters attesting tO numerous Other 

transactions of the same nature. 
What makes this one interesting, of course, is the recurrence of Orval, 
which had figured earlier in our inquiry. Moreover, the tract of land 
in question would seem to have been of special import, for the "Prieure 
documents' tell us that 

Adam incurred the wrath of the brethren of Sion for his donation so 
much so that he was apparently compelled to renounce his position. The 
act of abdication, according to the Dossiers secrets, was formally 
witnessed by 

Thomas de Sainville, Grand Master of the Order of Saint Lazarus. 
Immediately afterwards Adam is said to have gone to Acre, then to have fled the city when 
it fell to the Saracens and to have died in Sicily in 1 291 . 
Again we could not find the actual charter of abdication. But Thomas 

Sainville was Grand Master of the Order of Saint Lazarus in 1281 , and the headquarters 
of Saint Lazarus were near Orleans where Adam's abdication would have taken place. 
And there is no question that Adam went to Acre. 
Two proclamations and two letters were in fact signed by him there, the 


first dated August 1 281 ,"5 the second March 1 289. "6 The "Head' of the 


According to the "Prieure documents', the Prieure de Sion was not, strictly speaking, a 

perpetuation or continuation of the Order of the Temple: on the contrary, the text stresses 

emphatically that the separation between the two orders dates from the 'cutting of the elm' 

in 1 188. Apparently, however, some kind of rapport continued to exist, and, "in 1307, 

Guillaume de Gisors received the golden head, Caput LVIII Fa from the Order of the 


Our investigation of the Templars had already acquainted us with this mysterious head. 

To link it with Sion, however, and with the seemingly important Gisors family, again struck 

us as dubious as if the "Prieure documents' were straining to make powerful and 

evocative connections. 

And yet it was precisely on this point that we found some of our most 

solid and intriguing confirmation. According to the official records 

of the 


The guardian and administrator of the goods of the Temple at Paris, after the arrests, was 

a man of the King named Guillaume Pidoye. 

Before the 

Inquisitors on May 1 1 th , 1308, he declared that at the time of the 

arrest of the Knights Templar, he, together with his colleague 

Guillaume de Gisors and one Raynier Bourdon, had been ordered to 

present to the Inquisition all the figures of metal or wood they had 

found. Among the goods of the Temple they had found a large head of 

silver gilt .. . the image of a woman, which 

Guillaume, on May 11 th , presented before the Inquisition. The head 

carried a label, "CAPUT LVIIIm'."8 

If the head continued to baffle us, the context in which Guillaume de 

Gisors appeared was equally perplexing. He is specifically cited as 

being a colleague of Guillaume Pidoye, one of King Philippe's men. In 

other words he, like Philippe, would seem to have been hostile to the 

Templars and participated in the attack upon them. According to the 

"Prieure documents', however, Guillaume was Grand Master of the Prieure 

de Sion at the time. Did this mean that Sion endorsed Philippe's 

action against the Temple, perhaps even collaborated in it? There are 


certain "Prieure documents' which hint that this may have been the 

case that Sion, in some unspecified way, authorised and presided over 

the dissolution of its unruly proteges. On the other hand, the 

"Prieure documents' also imply that 

Sion exercised a kind of paternal protectiveness towards at least 


Templars during the Order's last days. If this is true, Guillaume de Gisors might well have 

been a 'double-agent'. He might well have been responsible for the 'leak' of Philippe's 

plans, the means whereby the Templars received advance warning of the king's 

machinations against them. If, after the formal separation in 1 1 88, Sion did in fact 

continue to exercise some clandestine control over Temple affairs, Guillaume de Gisors 

might have been partially responsible for the careful destruction of the Order's documents 

and the unexplained disappearance of its treasure. 

The Grand Masters of the Templars 

In addition to the fragmentary information discussed above, the text in 


Dossiers secrets includes three lists of names. The first of these is straightforward 

enough -the least interesting, and the least open to controversy or doubt, being merely a 

list of abbots who presided over Sion's lands in Palestine between 1 1 52 and 1 281 . Our 

research confirmed its veracity: it appears elsewhere, independent of the Dossiers 

secrets, and in accessible, unimpugnable sources. "9 The lists in these sources agree with 

that in the Dossiers secrets, except that two names are missing in the sources. In this 

case, then, the "Prieure documents' not only agree with verifiable history, but are more 

comprehensive in that they fill certain lacunae. 

The second list in the Dossiers secrets is a list of the Grand Masters 

of the Knights Templar from 1118 until 1 1 90 in other words, from the 

Temple's public foundation until its separation from Sion and the 'cutting of the elm' at 

Gisors. At first there seemed nothing unusual or extraordinary about this list. When we 

compared it to other lists, however those cited by acknowledged historians writing on the 

Templars, for instance certain obvious discrepancies quickly emerged. 


According to virtually all other known lists, there were ten Grand 

Masters between 1118 and 1 190. According to the Dossiers secrets, 

there were only eight. According to most other lists, Andre de 

Montbard Saint Bernard's uncle was not only a co-founder of the Order, 

but also its 

Grand Master between 1 153 and 1 156. According to the Dossiers secrets, however, 

Andre was never Grand Master, but would seem to have continued functioning as he does 

all through his career behind the scenes. According to most other lists, Bertrand de 

Blanchefort appears as sixth Grand Master of the Temple, assuming his office after Andre 

de Montbard, in 1156. 

According to the Dossiers secrets, Bertrand is not sixth, but fourth in succession, 

becoming Grand Master in 1153. There were other such discrepancies and 

contradictions, and we were uncertain what to make of them or how seriously to take 

them. Because it disagreed with those compiled by established historians, were we to 

regard the list in the Dossiers secrets as wrong? 

It must be emphasised that no official or definitive list of the 


Grand Masters exists. Nothing of the sort has been preserved or handed down to 

posterity. The Temple's own records were destroyed or disappeared, and the earliest 

known compilation of the Order's Grand Masters dates from 1342 thirty years after the 

Order itself was suppressed, and 225 years after its foundation. As a result historians 

compiling lists of Grand Masters have based their findings on contemporary chroniclers - 

on a man writing in 1 170, for example, who makes a passing allusion to one or another 

individual as "Master' or "Grand Master' of the Temple. And additional evidence can be 

obtained by examining documents and charters of the period, in which one or another 

Templar official would append one or another title to his signature. It is thus hardly 

surprising that the sequence and dating of Grand Masters should engender considerable 

uncertainty and confusion. 

Nor is it surprising that sequence and dating should vary, sometimes dramatically, from 

writer to writer, account to account. 

Nevertheless, there were certain crucial details like those summarised 

above in which the "Prieure documents' deviated significantly from all 

other sources. We could not, therefore, ignore such deviations. We 


had to determine, as far as we could, whether the list in the Dossiers 

secrets was based on sloppiness, ignorance or both; or, alternatively, 

whether this list was indeed the definitive one, based on "inside' 

information, inaccessible to historians. If Sion did create the 

Knights Templar, and if Sion (or at least its records) did survive to the present day, we 

could reasonably expect it to be privy to details unobtainable elsewhere. 

Most of the discrepancies between the list in the Dossiers secrets and those in other 

sources can be explained fairly easily. At this point, it is not worth exploring each such 

discrepancy and accounting for it. 

But a single example should serve to illustrate how and why such 

discrepancies might occur. In addition to the Grand Master, the Temple 

had a multitude of local masters a master for England, for Normandy, 

for Aquitaine, for all the territories comprising its domains. There 

was also an overall European master, and, it would appear, a maritime 

master as well. In documents and charters these local or regional 

masters would invariably sign themselves 

"Magister Templi' - "Master of the Temple'. And on most occasions the 


Master -through modesty, carelessness, indifference or slapdash 

insouciance would also sign himself as nothing more than "Magister 

Templi'. In other words Andre de Montbard, regional Master of 

Jerusalem, would, on a charter, have the same designation after his 

name as the Grand Master, Bertrand de 


It is thus not difficult to see how an historian, working with one or 

two charters alone and not cross-checking his references, might readily 

misconstrue Andre's true status in the Order. By virtue of precisely 

this kind of error, many lists of Templar Grand Masters include a man 


Everard des Barres. But the Grand Master, by the Temple's own 

constitutions, had to be elected by a general chapter in Jerusalem and 

had to reside there. Our research revealed that Everard des Barres was 

a regional master, elected and resident in France, who did not set foot 

in the Holy Land until much later. On this basis he could be excised 

from the list of Grand Masters as indeed he was in the Dossiers 

secrets. It was specifically on such academic fine points that the 

"Prieure documents' displayed a meticulous accuracy and precision we 


could not imagine being contrived after the fact. We spent more than 

a year considering and comparing various lists of 

Templar Grand Masters. We consulted all writers on the Order, in 


French and German, and then checked their sources as well. We examined the 

chronicles of the time like those of Guillaume de Tyre -and other contemporary accounts. 

We consulted all the charters we could find and obtained comprehensive information on 

all those known to be still extant. 

We compared signatories and titles on numerous proclamations, edicts, 

deeds and other Templar documents. As a result of this exhaustive 

inquiry, it became apparent that the list in the Dossiers secrets was 

more accurate than any other not only on the identity of the Grand 

Masters, but on the dates of their respective regimes as well. If a 

definitive list of the 

Temple's Grand Masters did exist, it was in the Dossiers secrets. z 

The accuracy of this list was not only important in itself. The implications attending it were 

much broader. Granted, such a list might perhaps have been compiled by an extremely 

careful researcher, but the task would have been monumental. It seemed much more 

likely to us that a list of such accuracy attested to some repository of privileged or 'inside' 

information information hitherto inaccessible to historians. 

Whether our conclusion was warranted or not, we were confronted by one indisputable 

fact someone had obtained access, somehow, to a list which was more accurate than any 

other. And since that list despite its divergence from others more accepted proved so 

frequently to be correct, it lent considerable credibility to the "Prieure documents' as a 

whole. If the Dossiers secrets were demonstrably reliable in this critical respect, there 

was somewhat less reason to doubt them in others. 

Such reassurance was both timely and necessary. Without it, we might 

well have dismissed the third list in the Dossiers secrets the Grand 

Masters of the Prieure de Sion out of hand. For this third list, even 


at a cursory glance, seemed absurd. 6 The Grand Masters and the 

Underground Stream 

In the Dossiers secrets," the following individuals are listed as successive Grand Masters 

of the Prieure de Sion or, to use the official term, "Nautonnier', an old French word which 

means 'navigator' or 'helmsman': 

JeandeGisors 1188-1220 

Marie de Saint-Clair 1220-66 

Guillaume de Gisors 1266-1307 

Edouardde Bar 1307-36 

Jeanne de Bar 1336-51 

Jean de Saint-Clair 1351-66 

Blanche d'Evreux 1366-98 

Nicolas Flamel 1398-1418 

Rened'Anjou 1418-80 

lolandede Bar 1480-83 

Sandro Filipepi 1483-1510 

Leonard de Vinci 1510-19 

Connetable de Bourbon 1519-27 

Ferdinand de Gonzague 1527-75 

Louis de Nevers 1575-95 

Robert Fludd 1595-1637 

J. Valentin Andrea 1637-54 

Robert Boyle 1654-91 

Isaac Newton 1691-1727 

Charles Radclyffe 1727-46 

Charles de Lorraine 1746-80 

Maximilian de Lorraine 1780-1801 

Charles Nodier 1801-44 

Victor Hugo 1844-85 

Claude Debussy 1885-1918 

Jean Cocteau 1918 When we first saw this list, it immediately provoked 

our scepticism. On the one hand it includes a number of names which 

one would automatically expect to find on such a list names of famous 


individuals associated with the 'occult' and 'esoteric'. On the other 

hand it includes a number of illustrious and improbable names individuals whom, in certain 

cases, we could not imagine presiding over a secret society. At the same time, many of 

these latter names are precisely the kind that twentieth-century organisations have often 

attempted to appropriate for themselves, thus establishing a species of spurious 

'pedigree'. There are, for example, lists published by AMORC, the modern "Rosicrucians' 

based in California, which include virtually every important figure in Western history and 

culture whose values, even if only tangentially, happened to coincide with the Order's 


An often haphazard overlap or convergence of attitudes is deliberately 

misconstrued as something tantamount to 'initiated membership'. And 

thus one is told that 

Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe and innumerable others were "Rosicrucians' implying that 

they were card-carrying members who paid their dues regularly. 

Our initial attitude towards the above list was equally cynical. Again, there are the 

predictable names -names associated with the 'occult' and 'esoteric'. Nicolas Flamel, for 

instance, is perhaps the most famous and well documented of medieval alchemists. 

Robert Fludd, seventeenth-century philosopher, was an exponent of Hermetic thought and 

other arcane subjects. 

Johann Valentin Andrea, German contemporary of Fludd, composed, among 

other things, some of the works which spawned the myth of the fabulous 


Rosenkreuz. And there are also names like Leonardo da Vinci and 


Filipepi, who is better known as Botticelli. There are names of distinguished scientists, 

like Robert Boyle and Sir Isaac Newton. 

During the last two centuries the Prieure de Sion's Grand Masters are 

alleged to have included such important literary and cultural figures 

as Victor Hugo, 

Claude Debussy and Jean Cocteau. 

By including such names, the list in the Dossiers secrets could not but 

appear suspect. It was almost inconceivable that some of the 

individuals cited had presided over a secret society and still more, a 

secret society devoted to 'occult' and 'esoteric' interests. Boyle and 

Newton, for example, are hardly names that people in the twentieth 

century associate with the 'occult' and 'esoteric'. And though Hugo, 


Debussy and Cocteau were immersed in such matters, they would seem to 

be too well known, too well researched and documented, to have exercised a "Grand 

Mastership' over a secret order. Not, at any rate, without some word of it somehow 

leaking out. 

On the other hand the distinguished names are not the only names on the 

list. Most of the other names belong to high-ranking European nobles, 

many of whom are extremely obscure unfamiliar not only to the general 

reader, but even to the professional historian. There is Guillaume de 

Gisors, for instance, who in 1306 is said to have organised the Prieure 

de Sion into an 'hermetic freemasonry'. And there is Guillaume's 

grandfather, jean de 

Gisors, who is said to have been Sion's first independent Grand Master, 

assuming his position after the "cutting of the elm' and the separation 

from the Temple in 1 188. There is no question that Jean de Gisors 

existed historically. He was born in 1 133 and died in 1220. He is 

mentioned in charters and was at least nominal lord of the famous 

fortress in Normandy where meetings traditionally convened between 

English and French kings took place, as did the cutting of the elm in 

1 188. Jean seems to have been an extremely powerful and wealthy 

landowner and until 1 193, a vassal of the king of England. He is also 

known to have possessed property in England in Sussex, and the manor of 

Titchfield in Hampshire. z According to the 

Dossiers secrets, he met Thomas a Becket at Gisors in 1 169 though there is no indication 

of the purpose of this meeting. We were able to confirm that Becket was indeed at Gisors 

in 1 169,3 and it is therefore probable that he had some contact with the lord of the 

fortress; but we could find no record of any actual encounter between the two men. 

In short, jean de Gisors, apart from a few bland details, proved virtually untraceable. He 

seemed to have left no mark whatever on history, save his existence and his title. We 

could find no indication of what he did what might have constituted his claim to fame, or 

have warranted his assumption of Sion's Grand Mastership. If the list of Sion's purported 

Grand Masters was authentic, what, we wondered, did Jean do to earn his place on it? 

And if the list were a latter-day fabrication, why should someone so obscure be included at 



There seemed to us only one possible explanation 135 which did not 

really explain very much in fact. Like the other aristocratic names on the list of Sion's 

Grand Masters, jean de Gisors appeared in the complicated genealogies which figured 

elsewhere in the "Prieure documents'. 

Together with those other elusive nobles, he apparently belonged to the 

same dense forest of family trees ultimately descended, supposedly, 

from the 

Merovingian dynasty. It thus seemed evident to us that the Prieure de 

Sion to a significant extent, at least was a domestic affair. In some 

way the 

Order appeared to be intimately associated with a bloodline and a lineage. 

And it was their connection with this bloodline or lineage that perhaps accounted for the 

various titled names on the list of Grand Masters. 

From the list quoted above, it would seem that Sion's Grand Mastership has recurrently 

shifted between two essentially distinct groups of individuals. 

On the one hand there are the figures of monumental stature who through esoterica, the 

arts or sciences have produced some impact on Western tradition, history and culture. On 

the other hand, there are members of a specific and interlinked network of families noble, 

and sometimes royal. 

In some degree this curious juxtaposition imparted plausibility to the list. If one merely 

wished to 'concoct a pedigree', there would be no point in including so many unknown or 

long-forgotten aristocrats. 

There would be no point, for instance, in including a man like Charles 

de Lorraine Austrian field-marshal in the eighteenth century, 

brother-in-law to the 

Empress Maria Theresa, who proved himself signally inept on the 

battlefield and was trounced in one engagement after another by 

Frederick the Great of 


In this respect, at least, the Prieure de Sion would seem to be both modest and realistic. 

It does not claim to have functioned under the auspices of unqualified geniuses, 

superhuman "masters', illumined "initiates', saints, sages or immortals. On the contrary, it 

acknowledges its Grand Masters to have been fallible human beings, a representative 

cross-section of humanity - a few geniuses, a few notables, a few "average specimens', a 

few nonentities, even a few fools. 

Why, we could not but wonder, would a forged or fabricated list include 


such a spectrum? If one wishes to contrive a list of Grand Masters, 

why not make all the names on it illustrious? If one wishes to 

"concoct a pedigree' which includes Leonardo, 

Newton and Victor Hugo, why not also include Dante, Michelangelo, 

Goethe and 

Tolstoi instead of obscure people like Edouard de Bar and Maximilian 


Lorraine? Why, moreover, were there so many 'lesser lights' on the list? Why a relatively 

minor writer like Charles Nodier, rather than contemporaries like Byron or Pushkin? Why 

an apparent' eccentric like Cocteau rather than men of such international prestige as 

Andre Gide or Albert Camus? And why the omission of individuals like Poussin, whose 

connection with the mystery had already been established? Such questions nagged at us, 

and argued that the list warranted consideration before we dismissed it as an arrant fraud. 

We therefore embarked on a lengthy and detailed study of the alleged 


Masters their biographies, activities and accomplishments. In conducting this study we 

tried, as far as we could, to subject each name on the list to certain critical questions: 

1) Was there any personal contact, direct or indirect, between each alleged 

Grand Master, his immediate predecessor and immediate successor? 2) 

Was there any affiliation, by blood or otherwise, between each 


Grand Master and the families who figured in the genealogies of the 

"Prieure documents' with any of the families of purported Merovingian 

descent, and especially the ducal house of Lorraine? 3) Was each 

alleged Grand Master in any way connected with 

Rennes-leChateau, Gisors, Stenay, Saint Sulpice or any of the other sites that had 

recurred in the course of our previous investigation? 4) 

If Sion defined itself as an "Hermetic freemasonry', did each alleged 

Grand Master display a predisposition towards Hermetic thought or an involvement with 

secret societies? 

Although information on the alleged Grand Masters before 1400 was 

difficult, sometimes impossible to obtain, our investigation of the 

later figures yield some astonishing results and consistency. Many of 

them were associated, in one way or another, with one or more of the 


sites that seemed to be relevant Rennes-leChateau, Gisors, Stenay or 

Saint Sulpice. Most of the names on the list were either allied by 

blood to the house of Lorraine or associated with it in some other 

fashion; even Robert Fludd, for example, served as tutor to the sons of 

the duke of Lorraine. From Nicolas Flamel on, every name on the list, 

without exception, was steeped in Hermetic thought, and often also 

associated with secret societies even men whom one would not readily 

associate with such things, like Boyle and Newton. And with only one 

exception, each alleged 

Grand Master had some contact sometimes direct, sometimes through close 

mutual friends with those who preceded and succeeded him. As far as we 

could determine, there was only one apparent 'break in the chain'. And 

even this which seems to have occurred around the French Revolution, 


Maximilian of Lorraine and Charles Nodier is not by any means conclusive. 

In the context of this chapter it is not feasible to discuss each 


Grand Master in detail. Some of the more obscure figures assume significance only 

against the background of a given age, and to explain this significance fully would entail 

lengthy digressions into forgotten byways of history. In the case of the more famous 

names, it would be impossible to do them justice in a few pages. In consequence the 

relevant biographical material on the alleged Grand Masters and the connections between 

them have been consigned to an appendix (see pp. 441-65). The present chapter will 

dwell on broader social and cultural developments, in which a succession of alleged 

Grand Masters played a collective part. It was in such social and cultural developments 

that our research seemed to yield a discernible trace of the Prieure de Sion's hand. 

Rene d'Anjou 

Although little known today, Rene d'Anjou - "Good King Rene' as he was 

the years immediately preceding the Renaissance. Born in 1408, during 

his life he came to hold an awesome array of titles. Among the most 

important were count of Bar, count of Provence, count of Piedmont, 


count of Guise, duke of Calabria, duke of Anjou, duke of Lorraine, 

king of Hungary, king of Naples and Sicily, king of 

Aragon, Valencia, Majorca and Sardinia -and, perhaps most resonant of all, king of 

Jerusalem. This last was, of course, purely titular. 

Nevertheless it invoked a continuity extending back to Godfroi de 

Bouillon, and was acknowledged by other European potentates. One of 

Rene's daughters, 

Marguerite d'Anjou, in 1445 married Henry VI of England and played a prominent role in 

the Wars of the Roses. 

In its earlier phases Rene d'Anjou's career seems to have been in some 

obscure way associated with that of Jeanne d'Arc. As far as is 


Jeanne was born in the town of Domremy, in the duchy of Bar, making 


Rene's subject. She first impressed herself on history in 1429, when 

she appeared at the fortress of Vaucouleurs, a few miles up the Meuse 


Domremy. Presenting herself to the commandant of the fortress, she announced her 

'divine mission' to save France from the English invaders and ensure that the dauphin, 

subsequently Charles VII, was crowned king. In order to perform this mission, she would 

have had to join the dauphin at his court at Chinon, on the Loire, far to the south-west. 

But she did not request a passage to Chinon of the commandant at Vaucouleurs; she 

requested a special audience with the duke of Lorraine Rene's father-in-law and great 


In deference to her request, Jeanne was granted an audience with the 

duke at his capital in Nancy. When she arrived there, Rene d'Anjou is 

known to have been present. And when the duke of Lorraine asked her 

what she wished, she replied explicitly, in words that have constantly 

perplexed historians, "Your son fin-law], a horse and some good men to 

take me into France '.4 

Both at the time and later, speculation was rife about the nature of 

Rene's connection with Jeanne. According to some sources, probably 

inaccurate, the two were lovers. But the fact remains that they knew 

each other, and that 

Rene was present when Jeanne first embarked on her mission. Moreover, 

contemporary chroniclers maintain that when Jeanne departed for the 

Dauphin's court at Chinon, Rene accompanied her. And not only that. 

The same chroniclers assert that Rene was actually present at her side 

during the siege of Orleans." In the centuries that followed a 


systematic attempt seems to have been made to expunge all trace of 

Rene's possible role in Jeanne's life. Yet Rene's later biographers cannot account for his 

whereabouts or activities between 1429 and 1431 the apex of Jeanne's career. It is 

usually and tacitly assumed that he was vegetating at the ducal court in Nancy, but there 

is no evidence to support this assumption. 

Circumstances argue that Rene did accompany Jeanne to Chinon. For if 

there was any one dominant personality at Chinon at the time, that 

personality was lolande d'Anjou. It was lolande who provided the 

febrile, weak willed dauphin with incessant transfusions of morale. It 

was lolande who inexplicably appointed herself Jeanne's official 

patroness and sponsor. It was lolande who overcame the court's 

resistance to the visionary girl and obtained authorisation for her to 

accompany the army to Orleans. It was 

lolande who convinced the dauphin that Jeanne might indeed be the saviour she claimed 

to be. It was lolande who contrived the dauphin's marriage to her own daughter. And 

lolande was Rene d'Anjou's mother. 

As we studied these details, we became increasingly convinced, like 

many modern historians, that something was being enacted behind the 

scenes some intricate, high-level intrigue, or audacious design. The 

more we examined it, the more Jeanne d'Arc's meteoric career began to 

suggest a 'put- up job' as if someone, exploiting popular legends of a 

'virgin from 

Lorraine' and playing ingeniously on mass psychology, had engineered and orchestrated 

the Maid of Orleans's so-called mission. This did not, of course, presuppose the 

existence of a secret society. But it rendered the existence of such a society decidedly 

more plausible. And if such a society did exist, the man presiding over it might well have 

been, Rene d'Anjou. 

Rene and the Theme of Arcadia 

If Rene was associated with Jeanne d'Arc, his later career, for the 

most part, was distinctly less bellicose. Unlike many of his 

contemporaries, Rene was less a warrior than a courtier. In this 

respect he was misplaced in his own age; he was, in short, a man ahead 


of his time, anticipating the cultured Italian princes of the 

Renaissance. An extremely literate person, he wrote prolifically and illuminated his own 

books. He composed poetry and mystical allegories, as well as compendiums of 

tournament rules. He sought to promote the advancement of knowledge and at one time 

employed Christopher Columbus. He was steeped in esoteric tradition, and his court 

included a Jewish astrologer, Cabalist and physician known as jean de Saint-Remy. 

According to a number of accounts, Jean de Saint-Remy was the grandfather of 

Nostradamus, the famous sixteenth-century prophet who was also to figure in our story. 

Rene's interests included chivalry and the Arthurian and Grail romances. 

Indeed he seems to have had a particular preoccupation with the Grail. 

He is said to have taken great pride in a magnificent cup of red 

porphyry, which, he asserted, had been used at the wedding at Cana. He 

had obtained it, he claimed, at Marseilles where the Magdalene, 

according to tradition, landed with the Grail. Other chroniclers speak 

of a cup in 

Rene's possession -perhaps the same one which bore a mysterious inscription incised 

into the rim: 

Qui bien beurra 

Dieu voira. 

Qui beurra tout dune baleine 

Voita Dieu et la Madeleine. s 

(He who drinks well Will see God. He who quaffs at a single draught 

Will see God and the Magdalene.) 

It would not be inaccurate to regard Rene d'Anjou as a major impetus 

behind the phenomenon now called the Renaissance. By virtue of his 


Italian possessions he spent some years in Italy; and through his 

intimate friendship with the ruling Sforza family of Milan he 

established contact with the Medicis of Florence. There is good reason 

to believe that it was largely Rene's influence which prompted Cosimo 

de' Medici to embark on a series of ambitious projects projects 


destined to transform Western civilisation. In 1439, while Rene was 

resident in Italy, Cosimo de' Medici began sending his agents all over 

the world in quest of ancient manuscripts. Then, in 1444, Cosimo 

founded Europe's first public library, the Library of San 

Marco, and thus began to challenge the Church's long monopoly of learning. 

At Cosimo's express commission, the corpus of Platonic, Neo-Platonic, 

Pythagorean, Gnostic and Hermetic thought found its way into 

translation for the first time and became readily accessible. Cosimo 

also instructed the University of Florence to begin teaching Greek, for 

the first time in 

Europe for some seven hundred years. And he undertook to create an academy of 

Pythagorean and Platonic studies. Cosimo's academy quickly generated a multitude of 

similar institutions throughout the Italian peninsula, which became bastions of Western 

esoteric tradition. And from them the high culture of the Renaissance began to blossom. 

Rene d'Anjou not only contributed in some measure to the formation of 

the academies, but also seems to have conferred upon them one of their 

favourite symbolic themes that of Arcadia. Certainly it is in Rene's 

own career that the motif of Arcadia appears to have made its debut in 

post-Christian Western culture. In 1449, for example, at his court 


Tarascon, Rene staged a series of pas dames curious hybrid amalgams of tournament 

and masque, in which knights tilted against each other and, at the same time, performed a 

species of drama or play. One of Rene's most famous pas dames was called "The Pas 

dAmes of the Shepherdess'. Played by his mistress at the time, the "Shepherdess' was 

an explicitly Arcadian figure, embodying both romantic and philosophical attributes. She 

presided over a tourney in which knights assumed allegorical identities representing 

conflicting values and ideas. The event was a singular fusion of the pastoral Arcadian 

romance with the pageantry of the Round Table and the mysteries of the Holy Grail. 

Arcadia figures elsewhere in Rene's work as well. It is frequently 

denoted by a fountain or a tombstone, both of which are associated with 

an underground stream. This stream is usually equated with the river 

Alpheus the central river in the actual geographical Arcadia in Greece, 


which flows underground and is said to surface again at the Fountain 

of Arethusa in Sicily. From the most remote antiquity to Coleridge's "Kubla Khan', the 

river Alpheus has been deemed sacred. Its very name derives from the same root as the 

Greek word "Alpha', meaning 'first' or 'source'. 

For Rene, the motif of an underground stream seems to have been 

extremely rich in symbolic and allegorical resonances. Among other 

things, it would appear to connote the 'underground' esoteric 

tradition of Pythagorean, 

Gnostic, Cabalistic and Hermetic thought. But it might also connote something more than 

a general corpus of teachings, perhaps some very specific factual information a 'secret' of 

some sort, transmitted in clandestine fashion from generation to generation. And it might 

connote an unacknowledged and thus 'subterranean' bloodline. 

In the Italian academies the image of the 'underground stream' appears to have been 

invested with all these levels of meaning. And it recurs consistently so much so, indeed, 

that the academies themselves have often been labelled "Arcadian'. Thus, in 1502, a 

major work was published, a long poem entitled Arcadia, by Jacopo Sannazaro and Rene 

d'Anjou's Italian entourage of some years before included one Jacques Sannazar, 

probably the poet's father. In 1553 Sannazaro's poem was translated into French. It was 

dedicated, interestingly enough, to the cardinal of Unoncourt ancestor of the 

twentiethcentury count of Unoncourt who compiled the genealogies in the "Prieure 


During the sixteenth century Arcadia and the 'underground stream' became a prominent 

cultural fashion. In England they inspired Sir Philip Sidney's most important work, 

Arcadia." In Italy they inspired such illustrious figures as Torquato 'lasso whose 

masterpiece, Jerusalem Delivered, deals with the capture of the Holy City by Godfroi de 

Bouillon. By the seventeenth century the motif of Arcadia had culminated in Nicolas 

Poussin and "Les Bergers d'Arcadie'. 

The more we explored the matter, the more apparent it became that 

something - a tradition of some sort, a hierarchy of values or 

attitudes, perhaps a specific body of information was constantly being 

intimated by the 'underground stream'. This image seems to have 


assumed obsessive proportions in the minds of certain eminent 

political families of the period all of whom, directly or indirectly, 

figure in the genealogies of the "Prieure documents'. And the families 

in question seem to have transmitted the image to their proteges in the 

arts. From Rene d'Anjou, something seems to have passed to the 

Medicis, the Sforzas, the Estes and the Gonzagas the last of whom, 

according to the "Prieure documents', provided Sion with two Grand 

Masters, Ferrante de Gonzaga and Louis de 

Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers. From them it appears to have found its way 

into the work of the epoch's most illustrious poets and painters, 


Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci. 

The Rosicrucian Manifestos 

A somewhat similar dissemination of ideas occurred in the seventeenth 

century, first in Germany, then spreading to England. In 1614 the 

first of the so-called "Rosicrucian manifestos' appeared, followed by a 

second tract a year later. These manifestos created a furore at the 

time, provoking fulminations from the Church and the Jesuits, and 

elicting fervently enthusiastic support from liberal factions in 

Protestant Europe. Among the most eloquent and influential exponents 

of "Rosicrucian thought was Robert 

Fludd, who is listed as the Prieure de Sion's sixteenth Grand Master, presiding between 

1595 and 1637. 

Among other things, the "Rosicrucian manifestos'8 promulgated the story of the legendary 

Christian Rosenkreuz. They purported to issue from a secret, 'invisible' confraternity of 

'initiates' in Germany and France. 

They promised a transformation of the world and of human knowledge in 

accordance with esoteric, Hermetic principles the 'underground stream' 

which had flowed from Rene d'Anjou through the Renaissance. A new 

epoch of spiritual freedom was heralded, an epoch in which man would 

liberate himself from his former shackles, would unlock hitherto 

dormant 'secrets of nature', and would govern his own destiny in accord 

with harmonious, all pervading universal and cosmic laws. At the same 


time, the manifestos were highly inflammatory politically, fiercely 

attacking the Catholic Church and the old Holy Roman Empire. These 

manifestos are now generally believed to have been written by a. German 

theologian and esotericist, Johann Valentin Andrea, listed as Grand 

Master of the Prieure de Sion after Robert Fludd. If they were not 

written by 

Andrea, they were certainly written by one or more of his associates. 

In 1616 a third "Rosicrucian' tract appeared, The Chemical Wedding of 

Christian Rosenkreuz. Like the two previous works, The Chemical Wedding was originally 

of anonymous authorship; but Andrea himself later confessed to having composed it as a 

"joke' or comedy. 

The Chemical Wedding is a complex Hermetic allegory, which subsequently 

influenced such works as Goethe's Faust. As Frances Yates has 

demonstrated, it contains unmistakable echoes of the English 

esotericist, John Dee, who also influenced Robert Fludd. Andrea's work 

also evokes resonances of the 

Grail romances and of the Knights Templar Christian Rosenkreuz, for instance, is said to 

wear a white tunic with a red cross on the shoulder. 

In the course of the narrative a play is performed an allegory within an allegory. This play 

involves a princess, of unspecified 'royal' lineage, whose rightful domains have been 

usurped by the Moors and who is washed ashore in a wooden chest. The rest of the play 

deals with her vicissitudes and her marriage to a prince who will help her regain her 


Our research revealed assorted second- and third-hand links between 

Andrea and the families whose genealogies figure in the "Prieure 

documents'. We discovered no firsthand or direct links, however, 

except perhaps for 

Frederick, Elector Palatine of the Rhine. Frederick was the nephew of an important 

French Protestant leader, Henri de la Tour dAuvergne, Viscount of Turenne and Duke of 

Bouillon Godfroi de Bouillon's old title. Henri was also associated with the Longueville 

family, which figured prominently in both the "Prieure documents' and our own inquiry. 

And in 1591 he had taken great trouble to acquire the town of Stenay. 

In 1613 Frederick of the Palatinate had married Elizabeth Stuart, 

daughter of James I of England, granddaughter of Mary Queen of Scots 

and great-granddaughter of Marie de Guise and Guise was the cadet 


branch of the house of Lorraine. Marie de Guise, a century before, 

had been married to the duke of Longueville and then, on his death, to 

f ames V of 

Scotland. This created a dynastic alliance between the houses of 

Stuart and 

Lorraine. In consequence the Stuarts began to figure, if only peripherally, in the 

genealogies of the "Prieure documents': and Andrea, as well as the three alleged Grand 

Masters who followed him, displayed varying degrees of interest in the Scottish royal 


During this period the house of 

Lorraine was, to a significant degree, in eclipse. If Sion was a coherent and active order 

at the time, it might therefore have transferred its allegiance -at least partially and 

temporarily to the decidedly more influential Stuarts. 

In any case Frederick of the Palatinate, after his marriage to 


Stuart, established an esoteric ally oriented court at his capital of 

Heidelberg. As Frances Yates writes: 

A culture was forming in the Palatinate which came straight out of 


Renaissance but with more recent trends added, a culture which may be 

defined by the adjective "Rosicrucian'. The prince around whom these 

deep currents were swirling was Friedrich, Elector Palatine, and their 

exponents were hoping for a politico-religious expression of their aims 


Frederickian movement .. . was an attempt to give those currents 

politico-religious expression, to realise the ideal of Hermetic reform 

centred on a real prince .. . It .. . created a culture, a 

"Rosicrucian' state with its court centred on Heidelberg. 9 

In short the anonymous "Rosicrucians' and their sympathisers seem to have invested 

Frederick with a sense of mission, both spiritual and political. 

And Frederick seems to have readily accepted the role imposed upon him, 

together with the hopes and expectations it entailed. Thus, in 1 61 8, 

he accepted the crown of Bohemia, offered him by that country's 

rebellious nobles. In doing so he incurred the wrath of the papacy and 

the Holy Roman 

Empire and precipitated the chaos of the Thirty Years War. Within two 

years he and Elizabeth had been driven into exile in Holland, and 

Heidelberg was overrun by Catholic troops. And for the ensuing quarter 


of a century Germany became the major battleground for the most 
bitter, bloody and costly conflict in European history before the 
twentieth century a conflict in which the Church almost managed to 
re-impose the hegemony she had enjoyed during the Middle Ages. 

Amidst the turmoil raging around him, Andrea created a network of more 

or less secret societies known as the Christian Unions. According to 

Andrea's blueprint, each society was headed by an anonymous prince, 

assisted by twelve others divided into groups of three each of whom was 

to be a specialist in a given sphere of study." The original purpose 

of the 

Christian Unions was to preserve threatened knowledge especially the 

most recent scientific advances, many of which the Church deemed 

heretical. At the same time, however, the Christian Unions also 

functioned as a refuge for persons fleeing the Inquisition which 

accompanied the invading 

Catholic armies, and was intent on rooting out all vestiges of 

"Rosicrucian' thought. Thus numerous scholars, scientists, philosophers and esotericists 

found a haven in Andrea's institutions. Through them many were smuggled to safety in 

England where Freemasonry was just beginning to coalesce. In some significant sense 

Andrea's Christian Unions may have contributed to the organisation of the Masonic lodge 


Among the displaced Europeans finding their way to England were a 

number of 

Andrea's personal associates: Samuel Hartlib, for example; Adam 

Komensky, better known as Comenius, with whom Andrea maintained a 

continuing correspondence; Theodore Haak, who was also a personal 

friend of Elizabeth 

Stuart and maintained a correspondence with her; and Doctor John Wilkins, formerly 

personal chaplain to Frederick of the Palatinate and subsequently bishop of Chester. 

Once in England, these men became closely associated with Masonic circles. 

They were intimate with Robert Moray, for instance, whose induction 

into a 

Masonic lodge in 1 641 is one of the earliest on record; with Elias 

Ashmole, antiquarian and expert on chivalric orders, who was inducted 

in 1646; with the young but precocious Robert Boyle who, though not 

himself a 

Freemason, was a member of another, more elusive secret society." 


There is no concrete evidence that this secret society was the Prieure 

de Sion, but Boyle, according to the "Prieure documents', succeeded 

Andrea as Sion's Grand Master. 

During Cromwell's Protectorate, these dynamic minds, both English and 

European, formed what Boyle in a deliberate echo of the "Rosicrucian' manifestos called 

an 'invisible college'. And with the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the 'invisible 

college' became the Royal Society" with the Stuart ruler, Charles II, as its patron and 


Virtually all the 

Royal Society's founder members were Freemasons. One could reasonably 

argue that the Royal Society itself, at least in its inception, was a 

Masonic institution derived, through Andrea's Christian Unions, from 

the 'invisible Rosicrucian brotherhood'. But this was not to be the 

culmination of the 'underground stream'. On the contrary, it was to 

flow from Boyle to 

Sir Isaac Newton, listed as Sion's next Grand Master, and thence into the complex 

tributaries of eighteenth-century Freemasonry. 

The Stuart Dynasty 

According to the "Prieure documents', Newton was succeeded as Sion's 


Master by Charles Radclyffe. The name was hardly as resonant to us 


Newton's or Boyle's or even Andrea's. Indeed, we were not at first certain who Charles 

Radclyffe was. As we began to research into him, however, he emerged as a figure of 

considerable, if subterranean, consequence in eighteenth-century cultural history. 

Since the sixteenth century the Radclyffes had been an influential 

Northumbrian family. In 1688, shortly before he was deposed, James II 

had created them earls of Derwentwater. Charles Radclyffe himself was 

born in 1693. His mother was an illegitimate daughter of Charles II by 

his mistress, Moll Davies. Radclyffe was thus, on his mother's side, 

of royal blood a grandson of the next-to last Stuart monarch. He was a 

cousin of 

Bonnie Prince Charlie and of George Lee, Earl of Lichfield another illegitimate grandson of 

Charles II. Not surprisingly, therefore, Radclyffe devoted much of his life to the Stuart 



In 1715 this cause rested with the "Old Pretender', James III, then in 

exile and residing at Bar-leDuc, under the special protection of duke 

of Lorraine. Radclyffe and his elder brother, James, both participated 

in the Scottish rebellion of that year. Both were captured and 

imprisoned, and James was executed. Charles, in the meantime, 

apparently aided by the earl of Lichfield, made a dashing and 

unprecedented escape from 

Newgate prison, and found refuge in the Jacobite ranks in France. In 

the years that followed he became personal secretary to the "Young 


Bonnie Prince Charlie. 

In 1745 the latter landed in Scotland and embarked on his quixotic 

attempt to reinstate the Stuarts on the British throne. In the same 

year Radclyffe, en route to join him, was captured in a French ship off 

the Dogger Bank. A year later, in 1746, the "Young Pretender' was 

disastrously defeated at the 

Battle of Culloden Moor. A few months thereafter, Charles Radclyffe died beneath the 

headsman's axe at the Tower of London. 

During their stay in France the Stuarts had been deeply involved in the 

dissemination of Freemasonry. Indeed they are generally regarded as 

the source of the particular form of Freemasonry known as "Scottish 

Rite'. "Scottish Rite' Freemasonry introduced higher degrees than 

those offered by other Masonic systems at the time. It promised 

initiation into greater and more profound mysteries -mysteries 

supposedly preserved and handed down in 

Scotland. It established more direct connections between Freemasonry and the various 

activities alchemy, Cabalism and Hermetic thought, for instance which were regarded as 

"Rosicrucian'. And it elaborated not only on the antiquity but also on the illustrious 

pedigree of the 'craft'. 

It is probable that "Scottish Rite' Freemasonry was originally 

promulgated, if not indeed devised, by Charles Radclyffe. In any case 

Radclyffe, in 1725, is said to have founded the first Masonic lodge on 

the continent, in 

Paris. During the same year, or perhaps in the year following, he seems to have been 

acknowledged Grand Master of all French lodges, and it is still cited as such a decade 

later, in 1736. The dissemination of eighteenth-century Freemasonry owes more, 

ultimately, to Radclyffe than to any other man. 


This has not always been readily apparent because Radclyffe, 

especially after 1738, kept a relatively 'low profile'. To a very significant degree, he seems 

to have worked through intermediaries and 'mouthpieces'. The most important of these, 

and the most famous, was the enigmatic individual known as the Chevalier Andrew 


Ramsay was born in Scotland sometime during the 1680s. As a young man 

he was a member of a quasi Masonic quasi-"Rosicrucian' society called 


Philadelphians. Among the other members of this society were at least two close friends 

of Isaac Newton. Ramsay himself regarded Newton with unmitigated reverence, deeming 

him a kind of high mystical 'initiate' - a man who had rediscovered and reconstructed the 

eternal truths concealed in the ancient mysteries. 

Ramsay had other links with Newton. He was associated with jean 

Desaguliers, one of Newton's closest friends. In 1707 he studied 

mathematics under one Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, the most intimate of 


Newton's companions. Like Newton, he displayed a sympathetic interest in the 

Camisards - a sect of Cathar-like heretics then suffering persecution in southern France, 

and a kind of cause celebre for Fatio de Duillier. 

By 1710 Ramsay was in Cambrai and on intimate terms with the mystical philosopher 

Fenelon, formerly cure of Saint Sulpice which, even at that time, was a bastion of rather 

questionable orthodoxy. It is not known precisely when Ramsay made Charles 

Radclyffe's acquaintance, but by the 1720s he was closely affiliated with the Jacobite 

cause. For a time he even served as Bonnie Prince Charlie's tutor. 

Despite his Jacobite connections, Ramsay returned to England in 1729 where 

notwithstanding an apparent lack of appropriate qualifications he was promptly admitted to 

the Royal Society. He also became a member of a rather more obscure institution called 

the Gentleman's Club of Spalding. This 'club' included men like Desaguliers, Alexander 

Pope and, until his death in 1727, Isaac Newton. 

By 1730 Ramsay was back in France and increasingly active on behalf 


Freemasonry. He is on record as having attended lodge meetings with a 

number of notable figures, including Desaguliers. And he received 


special patronage from the Tour dAuvergne family, the viscounts of 

Turenne and dukes of 

Bouillon who, three-quarters of a century before, had been related to 

Frederick of the Palatinate. In Ramsay's time the duke of Bouillon was 

a cousin of Bonnie Prince Charlie and among the most prominent figures 


Freemasonry. He conferred an estate and a town-house on Ramsay, whom he also 

appointed tutor to his son. 

In 1737 Ramsay delivered his famous "Oration' - a lengthy disquisition 

on the history of Freemasonry, which subsequently became a seminal 

document for the 'craft' ."4 On the basis of this "Oration' Ramsay 

became the preeminent Masonic spokesman of his age. Our research 

convinced us, however, that the real voice behind Ramsay was that of 

Charles Radclyffe who presided over the lodge at which Ramsay delivered 

his discourse and who appeared again, in 1743, as chief signatory at 

Ramsay's funeral. But if 

Radclyffe was the power behind Ramsay, it would seem to have been Ramsay who 

constituted the link between Radclyffe and Newton. 

Despite Radclyffe's premature death in 1746, the seeds he had sown in 

Europe continued to bear fruit. Early in the 1750s a new ambassador 


Freemasonry appeared a German named Karl Gottlieb von Hund. Hund 

claimed to have been initiated in 1742 - a year before Ramsay's death, 

four years before Radclyffe's. At his initiation, he claimed, he had 

been introduced to a new system of Freemasonry, confided to him by 

'unknown superiors'. "5 

These 'unknown superiors', Hund maintained, were closely associated with the Jacobite 

cause. Indeed, he even believed at first that the man who presided over his initiation was 

Bonnie Prince Charlie. And although this proved not to be the case, Hund remained 

convinced that the unidentified personage in question was intimately connected with the 

"Young Pretender'. 

It seems reasonable to suppose that the man who actually presided was 

Charles Radclyffe. 

The system of Freemasonry to which Hund was introduced a further 

extension of the "Scottish Rite'was subsequently called "Strict 

Observance'. Its name derived from the oath it demanded, an oath of unswerving, 

unquestioning obedience to the mysterious 'unknown superiors'. 


And the basic tenet of the "Strict Observance' was that it had 

descended directly from the Knights Templar, some of whom had 

purportedly survived the purge of 1307-14 and perpetuated their Order 



We were already familiar with this claim. On the basis of our own research we could allow 

it some truth. A contingent of Templars had allegedly fought on Robert Bruce's side at the 

Battle of Bannockburn. 

Because the Papal Bull dissolving the Templars was never promulgated in 

Scotland, the Order was never officially suppressed there. And we 

ourselves had located what seemed to be a Templar graveyard in 

Argyllshire. The earliest of the stones in this graveyard dated from 

the thirteenth century, the later ones from the eighteenth. The 

earlier stones bore certain unique carvings and incised symbols 

identical to those found at known Templar preceptories in England and 

France. The later stones combined these symbols with specifically 

Masonic motifs, attesting thereby to some sort of fusion. It was thus 

not impossible, we concluded, that the Order had indeed perpetuated 

itself in the trackless wilderness of medieval Argyll -maintaining a 

clandestine existence, gradually secular ising itself and becoming 

associated with both 

Masonic guilds and the prevailing clan system. 

The pedigree Hund claimed for the "Strict Observance' did not, 

therefore, seem to us altogether improbable. To his own embarrassment 

and subsequent disgrace, however, he was unable to elaborate further on 

his new system of 

Freemasonry. As a result his contemporaries dismissed him as a 

charlatan, and accused him of having fabricated the story of his 

initiation, his meeting with 'unknown superiors', his mandate to 

disseminate the "Strict 

Observance'. To these charges Hund could only reply that his 'unknown superiors' had 

inexplicably abandoned him. They had promised to contact him again and give him 

further instructions, he protested, but they had never done so. To the end of his life he 

affirmed his integrity, maintaining he had been deserted by his original sponsors who, he 

insisted, had actually existed. 

The more we considered Hund's assertions, the more plausible they 

sounded and he appeared to have been a hapless victim not so much of 

deliberate betrayal as of circumstances beyond everyone's control. For 


according to his own account, Hund had been initiated in 1742, when 

the Jacobites were still a powerful political force in continental 

affairs. By 1746, however, 

Radclyffe was dead. So were many of his colleagues, while others were in prison or exile 

as far away, in some cases, as North America. If Hund's 'unknown superiors' failed to 

reestablish contact with their protege, the omission does not seem to have been voluntary. 

The fact that Hund was abandoned immediately after the collapse of the Jacobite cause 

would seem, if anything, to confirm his story. 

There is another fragment of evidence which lends credence not only 


Hund's claims but to the "Prieure documents' as well. This evidence is 

a list of Grand Masters of the Knights Templar, which Hund insisted he 

had obtained from his 'unknown superiors'. '6 On the basis of our own 

research, we had concluded that the list of Templar Grand Masters in 

the Dossiers secrets was accurate so accurate, in fact, that it 

appeared to derive from 'inside information'. Save for the spelling of 

a single surname, the list Hund produced agreed with the one in the 

Dossiers secret. In shot, 

Hund had somehow obtained a list of Templar Grand Masters more accurate than any 

other known at the time. Moreover, he obtained it when many documents on which we 

relied charters, deeds, proclamations were still sequestered in the Vatican and 

unobtainable. This would seem to confirm that Hund's story of 'unknown superiors' was 

not a fabrication. It would also seem to indicate that those 'unknown superiors' were 

extraordinarily knowledgeable about the Order of the Temple more knowledgeable than 

they could possibly have been without access to 'privileged sources'. 

In any case, despite the charges levelled against him Hund was not left 

completely friendless. After the collapse of the Jacobite cause he 

found a sympathetic patron, and a close companion, in no less a person 

than the 

Holy Roman Emperor. The Holy Roman Emperor at this time was FranQois, 

Duke of Lorraine who, by his marriage to Maria Theresa of Austria in 

1735, had linked the houses of Habsburg and Lorraine and inaugurated 


Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty. And according to the "Prieure documents', 

it was 


Francois's brother, Charles de Lorraine, who succeeded Radclyffe as 

Sion's Grand Master. 

Fran(~ois was the first European prince to become a Mason and to 

publicise his Masonic affiliations. He was initiated in 1731 at the 

Hague a bastion of esoteric activity since "Rosicrucian' circles had 

installed themselves there during the Thirty Years War. And the man 

who presided over Francois's initiation was jean Desaguliers, intimate 

associate of Newton, Ramsay and 

Radclyffe. Shortly after his initiation moreover, Franqois embarked for a lengthy stay in 

England. Here he became a member of that innocuous-sounding institution, the 

Gentleman's Club of Spalding. 

In the years that followed, Franqois de Lorraine was probably more 

responsible than any other European potentate for the spread of 

Freemasonry. His court at Vienna became, in a sense, Europe's Masonic 

capital, and a centre for a broad spectrum of other esoteric interests 

as well. FranQois himself was a practising alchemist, with an 

alchemical laboratory in the imperial palace, the Hofburg. On the 

death of the last 

Medici he became grand duke of Tuscany, and deftly thwarted the 

Inquisition's harassment of Freemasons in Florence. Through 


Charles Radclyffe, who had founded the first Masonic lodge on the continent, left a 

durable legacy. 

Charles Nodier and His Circle 

Compared to the important cultural and political figures who preceded him, compared 

even to a man like Charles Radclyffe, Charles Nodier seemed a most unlikely choice for 

Grand Master. We knew him primarily as a kind of literary curiosity a relatively minor 

belle-lettrist, a somewhat garrulous essayist, a second-rate novelist and short-story writer 

in the bizarre tradition of E. T. A. Hoffmann and, later, Edgar Allan Poe. In his own time, 

however, Nodier was regarded as a major cultural figure, and his influence was enormous. 

Moreover, he proved to be connected with our inquiry in a number of surprising ways. 

By 1824 Nodier was already a literary celebrity. In that year he was 


appointed the chief librarian at the Arsenal Library, the major French 

depository for medieval and specifically occult manuscripts. Among its various treasures 

the Arsenal was said to have contained the alchemical works of Nicolas Flamel the 

medieval alchemist listed as one of Sion's earlier Grand Masters. The Arsenal also 

contained the library of Cardinal Richelieu an exhaustive collection of works on magical, 

Cabalistic and Hermetic thought. And there were other treasures, too. On the outbreak of 

the French Revolution monasteries throughout the country had been plundered, and all 

books and manuscripts sent to Paris for storage. Then in 1810 Napoleon, as part of his 

ambition to create a definitive world library, confiscated and brought to Paris almost the 

entire archive of the Vatican. There were more than three thousand cases of material, 

some of which all the documents pertaining to the Templars, for example -had been 

specifically requested. Although some of these papers were subsequently returned to 

Rome, a great many remained in France. And it was material of this sort -occult books 

and manuscripts, works plundered from monasteries and the archive of the Vatican that 

passed through the hands of Nodier and his associates. Methodically they sifted it, 

catalogued it, explored it. 

Among Nodier's colleagues in this task were Eliphas Levi and Jean 


Pitois, who adopted the nom de plume of Paul Christian. The works of these two men, 

over the years that followed, engendered a major renaissance of interest in esoterica. It is 

to these two men, and to Charles Nodier, their mentor, that the French "occult revival' of 

the nineteenth century, as it has been called, can ultimately be traced. 

Indeed, Pitois's History and 

Practice of Magic became a bible for nineteenth-century students of the arcane. Recently 

re-issued in English translation complete with its original dedication to Nodier it is now a 

coveted work among modern students of the occult. 

During his tenure at the Arsenal Nodier continued to write and publish prolifically. Among 

the most important of his later works is a massive, lavishly illustrated, multi-volume opus 

of antiquarian interest, devoted to sites of particular consequence in ancient France. 

In this monumental compendium Nodier devoted considerable space to the 


Merovingian epoch a fact all the more striking in that no one at the 

time displayed the least interest in the 

Merovingians. There are also lengthy sections on the Templars, and there is a special 

article on Gisors including a detailed account of the mysterious 'cutting of the elm' in 1 188, 

which, according to the "Prieure documents', marked the separation between the Knights 

Templar and the Prieure de Sion." 

At the same time Nodier was more than a librarian and a writer. He was 

also a gregarious, egocentric and flamboyant individual who constantly 

sought the centre of attention and did not hesitate to exaggerate his 

own importance. In his quarters at the Arsenal Library he inaugurated 

a salon which established him as one of the most influential and 

prestigious 'aesthetic potentates' of the epoch. By the time of his 

death in 1 845, he had served as mentor for a whole generation many of 

whom quite eclipsed him in their subsequent achievements. For example, 

Nodier's chief disciple and closest friend was the young Victor Hugo 

Sion's next Grand Master according to the "Prieure documents'. There 

was Franqois-Rene de 

Chateaubriand who made a special pilgrimage to Poussin's tomb in Rome 

and had a stone erected there bearing a reproduction of "Les Bergers 

d'Arcadie'. There were Balzac, Delacroix, Dumas pere, Lamartine, 


Theophile Gautier, Gerard de Nerval and Alfred de Vigny. Like the 

poets and painters of the Renaissance, these men often drew heavily on 

esoteric, and especially Hermetic, tradition. They also incorporated 

in their works a number of motifs, themes, references and allusions to 

the mystery which, for us, commenced with Sauniere and 

Rennes-leChateau. In 1832, for instance, a book was published entitled 

A Journey to Rennes-les-Bains, which speaks at length of a legendary 

treasure associated with Blanchefort and Rennes-leChateau. The author 

of this obscure book, Auguste de 

Laboulsse-Rochefort, also produced another work, The Lovers To Eleonore. 

On the title page there appears, without any explanation, the motto "Et 


Arcadia Ego'. 

Nodier's literary and esoteric activities were quite clearly pertinent 

to our investigation. But there was another aspect of his career which 

was, if anything, more pertinent still. For Nodier, from his 

childhood, was deeply involved in secret societies. As early as 1790, 


for instance, at the age of ten he is known to have been involved in a 

group called the 

Philadelphes."8 Around 1793 he created another group or perhaps an 

inner circle of the first -which included one of the subsequent 

plotters against 

Napoleon. A charter dated 1797 attests to the foundation of yet 

another group also called the Philadelphes in that year. "9 In the 

library of 

Besani~on there is a cryptic essay composed and recited to this group 

by one of Nodier's closest friends. It is entitled Le Berger Arcadien 

ou Premiere 

Accents dune Flute Champetre ("The Arcadian Shepherd Sounds the First 

Accents of a Rustic Flute'). z 

In Paris in 1802 Nodier wrote of his affiliation with a secret society 

which he described as "Biblical and Pythagorean'." Then, in 1816, he 

published anonymously one of his most curious and influential works, 


History of Secret Societies in the Army under Napoleon. In this book Nodier is 

deliberately ambiguous. He does not clarify definitively whether he is writing pure fiction 

or pure fact. If anything, he implies, the book is a species of thinly disguised allegory of 

actual historical occurrences. In any case it develops a comprehensive philosophy of 

secret societies. And it credits such societies with a number of historical 

accomplishments, including the downfall of Napoleon. There are a great many secret 

societies in operation, Nodier declares. But there is one, he adds, that takes precedence 

over all others, that in fact presides over all the others. 

According to Nodier, this 'supreme' secret society is called the 

Philadelphes. At the same time, however, he speaks of "the oath which 

binds me to the Philadelphes and which forbids me to make them known 

under their social name '.21 Nevertheless, there is a hint of Sion in 

an address which 

Nodier quotes. It was supposedly made to an assembly of Philadelphes by one of the 

plotters against Napoleon. The man in question is speaking of his newly born son: 

He is too young to engage himself to you by the oath of Annibal; but 

remember I have named him Eliacin, and that I delegate to him the guard 

of the temple and the altar, if I should die ere I have seen fall from 

his throne the last of the oppressors of Jerusalem .z3 

Nodier's book burst on the scene when fear of secret societies had 


assumed virtually pathological proportions. Such societies were often 

blamed for instigating the French 

Revolution; and the atmosphere of post-Napoleonic Europe was similar, in many respects, 

to that of the "McCarthy Era' in the United States during the 1950s. People saw, or 

imagined they saw, conspiracies everywhere. 

Witch-hunts abounded. Every public disturbance, every minor disruption, every untoward 

occurrence was attributed to 'subversive activity' to the work of highly organised 

clandestine organisations working insidiously behind the scenes, eroding the fabric of 

established institutions, perpetrating all manner of devious sabotage. 

This mentality engendered measures of extreme repression. And the 

repression, directed often at a fictitious threat, in turn engendered 

real opponents, real groups of subversive conspirators who would form 

themselves in accordance with the fictitious blueprints. Even as 

figments of the imagination, secret societies fostered a pervasive 

paranoia in the upper echelons of government; and this paranoia 

frequently accomplished more than any secret society itself could 

possibly have done. There is no question that the myth of the secret 

society, if not the secret society itself, played a major role in 

nineteenth century European history. And one of the chief architects 

of that myth, and possibly of a reality behind it, was Charles 


Debussy and the Rose-Croix 

The trends to which Nodier gave expression a fascination with secret 

societies and a renewed interest in the esoteric continued to gain 

influence and adherents throughout the nineteenth century. Both trends 

reached a peak in the Paris of the fin de siecle the milieu of Claude 

Debussy, Sion's alleged Grand Master when Berenger Sauniere, in 1 891 , discovered the 

mysterious parchments at Rennes-leChateau. 

Debussy seems to have made Victor Hugo's acquaintance through the symbolist poet 

Paul Verlaine. Subsequently he set a number of Hugo's works to music. 

He also became an integral member of the symbolist circles which, by the last decade of 

the century, had come to dominate Parisian cultural life. 


These circles were sometimes illustrious, sometimes odd, sometimes 

both. They included the young cleric Rmile Hoffet and Emma Calve 

through whom Debussy came to meet 

Sauniere. There was also the enigmatic magus of French symbolist 


Stephane Mallarme one of whose masterpieces, L'Apres-Midi dun Faune, 

Debussy set to music. There was the symbolist playwright, Maurice 

Maeterlinck, whose Merovingian drama, Pelleas et Melisande, Debussy 

turned into a world-famous opera. There was the flamboyant Comte 

Philippe Auguste 

Villiers de 1 "Isle-Adam, whose "Rosicrucian' play, Axel, became a bible for the entire 

Symbolist Movement. Although his death in 1918 prevented its completion, Debussy 

began to compose a libretto for Villiers's occult drama, intending to turn it, too, into an 


Among his other associates were the luminaries who attended Mallarme's 

famous Tuesday night soirees Oscar 

Wilde, W. B. Yeats, Stefan George, Paul Valery, the young Andre Gide 


Marcel Proust. 

In themselves Debussy's and Mallarme circles were steeped in esoterica. 

At the same time, they overlapped circles that were more esoteric 

still. Thus 

Debussy consorted with virtually all the most prominent names in the 

so-called French 'occult revival'. One of these was the Marquis 

Stanislas de Guaita, an intimate of Emma Calve and founder of the 


Cabalistic Order of the Rose Croix A second was Jules Bois, a notorious satanist, another 

intimate of Emma Calve and a friend of MacGregor Mathers. 

Prompted by Jules Bois, Mathers established the most famous British occult society of the 

period, the Order of the Golden Dawn. 

Another occultist of Debussy's acquaintance was Doctor Gerard Encausse better known 

as Papus,zs under which name he published what is still considered one of the definitive 

works on the Tarot. Papus was not only a member of numerous esoteric orders and 

societies, but also a confidant of the czar and czarina, Nicholas and Alexandra of Russia. 

And among Papus's closest associates was a name which had already 

figured in our inquiry that of Jules Doinel. In 1890 Doinel had become 

librarian at Carcassonne and established a neo-Cathar church in the 

Languedoc in which he and 

Papus functioned as bishops. Doinel in fact proclaimed himself Gnostic 


bishop of Mirepoix, which included the parish of Montsegur, and of 

Met, which included the parish of Rennes- leChateau. 

Doinel's church was supposedly consecrated by an eastern bishop in 

Paris at the home, interestingly enough, of Lady Caithness, wife of the 

earl of 

Caithness, Lord James Sinclair. In retrospect this church seems to have been merely 

another innocuous sect or cult, like so many of the fin de siecle. At the time, however, it 

caused considerable alarm in official quarters. A special report was prepared for the Holy 

Office of the Vatican on the "resurgence of Cathar tendencies'. And the pope issued and 

explicit condemnation of Doinel's institution, which he militantly denounced as a new 

manifestation of 'the ancient Albigensian heresy'. 

Notwithstanding the Vatican's condemnation, Doinel, by the mid-1 890s, 

was active in Sauniere's home territory and at precisely the time that 

the cure of Rennes-leChateau began to flaunt his wealth. The two men 

may well have been introduced by Debussy. Or by Emma Calve. Or by the 

Abbe Henri 

Boudet cure of Rennes-les-Bains, best friend of Sauniere and colleague 


Doinel in the Society of Arts and Sciences of Carcassonne. 

One of the closest of Debussy's occult contacts was Josephin Peladan 

another friend of Papus and, predictably enough, another intimate of 


Calve. In 1889 Peladan embarked on a visit to the Holy Land. When he 

returned he claimed to have discovered Jesus's tomb not at the 

traditional site of the Holy Sepulchre but under the Mosque of Omar, 

formerly part of the Templars' enclave. In the words of an 

enthusiastic admirer, Pdadan's alleged discovery was 'so astonishing 

that at any other era it would have shaken the Catholic world to its 

foundations'. ze Neither 

Peladan nor his associates, however, volunteered any indication of 


Jesus's tomb could have been so definitively identified and verified as such, nor why its 

discovery should necessarily shake the Catholic world unless, of course, it contained 

something significant, controversial, perhaps even explosive. In any case, Peladan did 

not elaborate on his purported discovery. But though a self-professed Catholic, he 

nevertheless insisted on Jesus's mortality. 

In 1890 Peladan founded a new order the Order of the Catholic 


Rose-Croix, the Temple and the Grail. And this order, unlike the 

other Rose-Croix institutions of the period, somehow escaped papal condemnation. In the 

meantime, P61adan turned his attention increasingly to the arts. The artist, he declared, 

should be 'a knight in armour, eagerly engaged in the symbolic quest for the Holy Grail'. 

And in adherence to this principle, P61adan embarked on a fully fledged 

aesthetic crusade. It took the form of a highly publici sed series of 

annual exhibitions, known as the Salon de la Rose + Croix whose avowed 

purpose was 'to ruin realism, reform Latin taste and create a school of 

idealist art'. To that end certain themes and subjects were 

autocratically and summarily rejected as unworthy 'no matter how well 

executed, even if perfectly'. The list of rejected themes and subjects 

included 'prosaic' history painting, patriotic and military painting, 

representations of contemporary life, portraits, rustic scenes and 'alt 

landscapes except those composed in the manner of Poussin'.2' 

Nor did P61adan confine himself to painting. On the contrary, he attempted to promulgate 

his aesthetic in music and the theatre as well. He formed his own theatre company, which 

performed specially composed works on such subjects as Orpheus, the Argonauts and 

the Quest for the Golden Fleece, the "Mystery of the Rose-Croix' and the "Mystery of the 

Grail'. One of the regular promoters and patrons of these productions was Claude 


Among Peladan's and Debussy's other associates was Maurice Barres who, as a young 

man, had been involved in a "Rose-Croix' circle with Victor Hugo. 

In 1912 Barres published his most famous novel, La Colline inspiree 


Inspired Mount'). Certain modern commentators have suggested that his 

work is in fact a thinly disguised allegory of Berenger Sauniere and 

Rennes-leChateau. Certainly there are parallels which would seem too striking to be 

wholly coincidental. But Barres does not situate his narrative in Rennes-leChateau, or any 

other place in the Languedoc. On the contrary, the 'inspired mount' of the title is a 

mountain surmounted by a village in Lorraine, And the village is the old pilgrimage centre 

of Sion. 

Jean Cocteau 


More than Charles Radclyffe, more than Charles Nodier, Jean Cocteau 

seemed to us a most unlikely candidate for the Grand Mastership of an influential secret 

society. In Radclyffe's and Nodier's cases, however, our investigation had yielded certain 

connections of considerable interest. In Cocteau's we discovered very few. 

Certainly he was raised in a milieu close to the "corridors of power' his family were 

politically prominent and his uncle was an important diplomat. 

But Cocteau, at least ostensibly, abandoned this world, leaving home at the age of fifteen 

and plunging into the seedy sub-culture of Marseilles. By 1908 he had established himself 

in bohemian artistic circles. In his early twenties he became associated with Proust, Gide 

and Maurice Barres. He was also a close friend of Victor Hugo's great-grandson, jean, 

with whom he embarked on assorted excursions into spiritualism and the occult. He 

quickly became versed in esoterica; and Hermetic thinking shaped not only much of his 

work, but also his entire aesthetic. By 1 91 2, if not earlier, he had begun to consort with 

Debussy, to whom he alludes frequently, if noncommittally in his journals. In 1926 he 

designed the set for a production of the opera Pelleas et Melisande because, according 

to one commentator, he was "unable to resist linking his name for all time to that of Claude 


Cocteau's private life which included bouts of drug addiction and a 

sequence of homosexual affairs was notoriously erratic. This has 

fostered an image of him as a volatile and recklessly irresponsible 

individual. In fact, however, he was always acutely conscious of his 

public persona; and whatever his personal escapades, he would not let 

them impede his access to people of influence and power. As he himself 

admitted, he had always craved public recognition, honour, esteem, even 

admission to the Academie 

Franqaise. And he made a point of conforming sufficiently to assure 

him of the status he sought. Thus he was never far removed from 

prominent figures like Jacques Maritain and Andre Malraux. Although 

never ostensibly interested in politics, he denounced the Vichy 

government during the war and seems to have been quietly in league with 

the Resistance. In 1949 he was made a Chevalier of the Legion of 


Honour. In 1958 he was invited by de Gaulle's brother to make a 

public address on the general subject of 

France. It is not the kind of role one generally attributes to Cocteau, but he appears to 

have played it frequently enough and to have relished doing so. 

For a good part of his life, Cocteau was associated -sometimes intimately, sometimes 

peripherally with royalist Catholic circles. Here he frequently hobnobbed with members of 

the old aristocracy including some of Proust's friends and patrons. At the same time, 

however, Cocteau's Catholicism was highly suspect, highly unorthodox, and seems to 

have been more an aesthetic than a religious commitment. 

In the latter part of his life, he devoted much of his energy to 

redecorating churches -curious echo, perhaps, of 

Berenger Sauniere. Yet even then his piety was questionable: "They take me for a 

religious painter because I've decorated a chapel. 

Always the same mania for labelling people. "a 

Like Sauniere, Cocteau, in his redecorations, incorporated certain 

curious and suggestive details. Some are visible in the church of 

Notre Dame de 

France, around the corner from Leicester Square in London. The church 

itself dates from 1865 and may, at its consecration, have had certain 

Masonic connections. In 1 940, at the peak of the blitz, it was 

seriously damaged. Nevertheless, it remained the favourite centre of 

worship for many important members of the Free French Forces; and after 

the war it was restored and redecorated by artists from all over 

France. Among them was 

Cocteau, who, in 1960, three years before his death, executed a mural depicting the 

Crucifixion. It is an extremely singular Crucifixion. There is a black sun, and a sinister, 

green-tinged and unidentified figure in the lower right-hand corner. There is a Roman 

soldier holding a shield with a bird emblazoned on it a highly styli sed bird suggesting an 

Egyptian rendering of Horus. Among the mourning women and dice-throwing centurions, 

there are two incongruously modern figures -one of whom is Cocteau himself, presented 

as a self portrait with his back significantly turned on the cross. Most striking of all is the 

fact that the mural depicts only the lower portion of the cross. 

Whoever hangs upon it is visible only as far up as the knees so that 

one cannot see the face, or determine the identity of who is being 


crucified. And fixed to the cross, immediately below the anonymous 

victim's feet, is a gigantic rose. The design, in short, is a flagrant Rose-Croix device. And 

if nothing else, it is a very singular motif for a Catholic church. 

The Two John XXH Is 

The Dossiers secrets, in which the list of Sion's alleged Grand Masters 

appeared, were dated 1956. Cocteau did not die until 1963. There was 

thus no indication of who might have succeeded him, or of who might 

preside over the 

Prieure de Sion at present. But Cocteau himself posed one additional point of immense 


Until the 'cutting of the elm' in 1 188, the "Prieure documents' 


Sion and the Order of the Temple shared the same Grand Master. After 


Sion is said to have chosen a Grand Master of its own, the first of 

them being jean de Gisors. According to the "Prieure documents', every 


Master, on assuming his position, has adopted the name of jean (John) 

or, since there were four women, Jeanne (Joan). Sion's Grand Masters 

are therefore alleged to have comprised a continuous succession of 

jeans and 

Jeannes, from 1 188 to the present. This succession was clearly intended to imply an 

esoteric and Hermetic papacy based on John, in contrast (and perhaps opposition) to the 

exoteric one based on Peter. 

One major question, of course, was which John. John the Baptist? John 


Evangelist the "Beloved Disciple' in the Fourth Gospel? Or John the 

Divine, author of the Book of Revelation? It seemed it must be one of 

these three because jean de Gisors in 1 1 88 had purportedly taken the 

title of 

Jean II. Who, then, was jean I? 

Whatever the answer to that question, jean Cocteau appeared on the list 


Sion's alleged Grand Masters as jean XXIII. In 1 959, while Cocteau 

still presumably held the Grand Mastership, Pope Pius XII died and the 

assembled cardinals elected, as their new pontiff, Cardinal Angelo 

Roncalli of 

Venice. Any newly elected pope chooses his own name; and Cardinal Roncalli caused 

considerable consternation when he chose the name of John XXIII. 

Such consternation was not unjustified. In the first place the name 


"John' had been implicitly anathematised since it was last used in the 

early fifteenth century by an antipope. Moreover, there had already been a John XXIII. 

The antipope who abdicated in 1415 and who, interestingly enough, had previously been 

bishop of Met was in fact John XXIII. It was thus unusual, to say the least, for Cardinal 

Roncalli to assume the same name. 

In 1976 an enigmatic little book was published in Italy and soon after translated into 

French. It was called The Prophecies o f Pope John XXIII and contained a compilation of 

obscure prophetic prose poems reputedly composed by the pontiff who had died thirteen 

years before in 1963, the same year as Cocteau. For the most part these 'prophecies' are 

extremely opaque and defy any coherent interpretation. Whether they are indeed the 

work of John XXIII is also open to question. But the introduction to the work maintains 

that they are Pope John's work. 

And it maintains something further as well that John XXIII was secretly 

a member of the "Rose-Croix', with whom he had become affiliated while 

acting as Papal 

Nuncio to Turkey in 1935. 

Needless to say, this assertion sounds increflible. Certainly it cannot be proved, and we 

found no external evidence to support it. But why, we wondered, should such an 

assertion even have been made in the first place? 

Could it be true after all? Could there be at least a grain of truth in it? 

In 1 188 the Prieure de Sion is said to have adopted the subtitle of 

"Rose-Croix Veritas'. If Pope John was affiliated with a "Rose-Croix' 

organisation, and if that organisation was the Prieure de Sion, the 

implications would be extremely intriguing. Among other things they 

would suggest that Cardinal Roncalli, on becoming pope, chose the name 

of his own seci,et Grand Master so that, for some symbolic reason, 

there would be a 

John XXIII presiding over Sion and the papacy simultaneously. 

In any case the simultaneous rule of a John (or jean) XXIII over both 

Sion and Rome would seem to be an extraordinary coincidence. Nor could 

the "Prieure documents' have devised a list to create such a 

coincidence a list which culminated with jean XXIII at the same time 

that a man with that title occupied the throne of Saint Peter. For the 

list of Sion's alleged 


Grand Masters had been composed and deposited in the Bibliotheque 

Nationale no later than 1956 three years before John XXIII became pope. 

There was another striking coincidence: In the twelfth century an Irish monk named 

Malachi compiled a series of Nostradamus-like prophecies. 

In these prophecies -which, incidentally, are said to be highly 

esteemed by many important Roman Catholics, including the present pope, 

John-Paul II Malachai enumerates the pontiffs who will occupy the 

throne of Saint Peter in the centuries to come. For each pontiff he 

offers a species of descriptive motto. And for John XXIII the motto, 

translated into French, is "Pasteur et Nautonnier' - "Shepherd and 

Navigator'." The official title of 

Sion's alleged Grand Master is also "Nautonnier'. 

Whatever the truth underlying these strange coincidences, there is no 

question that more than any other man Pope John XXIII was responsible 

for re-orienting the Roman Catholic Church and bringing it, as 

commentators have frequently said, into the twentieth century. Much of 

this was accomplished by the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, 

which John inaugurated. At the same time, however, John was 

responsible for other changes as well. He revised the Church's 

position on Freemasonry, for example breaking with at least two 

centuries of entrenched tradition and pronouncing that a Catholic might 

be a Freemason. And in June 1960 he issued a profoundly important 

apostolic letter .3 This missive addressed itself specifically to the 

subject of "The Precious Blood of Jesus'. It ascribed a hitherto 

unprecedented significance to that blood. It emphasised 

Jesus's suffering as a human being, and maintained that the redemption 

of mankind had been effected by the shedding of his blood. In the 

context of 

Pope John's letter, Jesus's human Passion, and the shedding of his blood, assume a 

greater consequence than the Resurrection or even than the mechanics of the Crucifixion. 

The implications of this letter are ultimately enormous. As one 

commentator has observed, they alter the whole basis of Christian 

belief. If man's redemption was achieved by the shedding of Jesus's 

blood, his death and resurrection became incidental if not, indeed, 


superfluous. Jesus need not have died on the cross for the faith to 


retain its validity. 7 Conspiracy through the Centuries 

How were we to synthesise the evidence we had accumulated? Much of it 

was impressive and seemed to bear witness to something some pattern, 

some coherent design. The list of Sion's alleged Grand Masters, 

however improbable it had originally appeared, now displayed some 

intriguing consistencies. Most of the figures on the list, for 

example, were connected, either by blood or personal association, with 

the families whose genealogies figured in the "Prieurcl documents' and 

particularly with the house of 

Lorraine. Most of the figures on the list were involved with orders of one kind or another, 

or with secret societies. Virtually all the figures on the list, even when nominally Catholic, 

held unorthodox religious beliefs. 

Virtually all of them were immersed in esoteric thought and tradition. And in almost every 

case there had been some species of close contact between an alleged Grand Master, his 

predecessor and his successor. 

Nevertheless, these consistencies, impressive though they might be, did 

not necessarily prove anything. They did not prove, for instance, that 


Prieure de Sion, whose existence during the Middle Ages we had 

confirmed, had actually continued to survive through the subsequent 

centuries. Still less did they prove that the individuals cited as 

Grand Masters actually held that position. It still seemed incredible 

to us that some of them really did. So far as certain individuals were 

concerned, the age at which they allegedly became Grand Master argued 

against them. Granted, it was possible that Edouard de Bar might have 

been selected Grand Master at the age of five, or Rene d'Anjou at the 

age of eight, on the basis of some hereditary principle. But no such 

principle seemed to obtain for Robert 

Fludd or Charles Nodier, who both supposedly became Grand Master at the age of 

twenty-one, or for Debussy, who supposedly did so aged twenty-three. 


Such individuals would not have had time to 'work their way up through 

the ranks', as one might, for example, in Freemasonry. Nor had they even become solidly 

established in their own spheres. This anomaly made no apparent sense. Unless one 

assumed that Sion's Grand Mastership was often purely symbolic, a ritual position 

occupied by a figurehead a figurehead who, perhaps, was not even aware of the status 

accorded him. 

However, it proved futile to speculate at least on the basis of the 

information we possessed. We therefore turned back to history again, 

seeking evidence of the Prieure de Sion elsewhere, in quarters other 

than the list of alleged Grand Masters. We turned particularly to the 

fortunes of the house of Lorraine, and some of the other families cited 

in the 

"Prieure documents'. We sought to verify other statements made in those documents. 

And we sought additional evidence for the work of a secret society, acting more or less 

covertly behind the scenes. 

If it was indeed genuinely secret, we did not, of course, expect to 

find the Prieure de Sion explicitly mentioned by that name. If it had 

continued to function through the centuries, it would have done so 

under a variety of shifting guises and masks, "fronts' and faqades just 

as it purportedly functioned for a time under the name Ormus, which it 

discarded. Nor would it have displayed a single obvious and specific 

policy, political position or prevailing attitude. Indeed, any such 

cohesive and unified stance, even if it could be gleaned, would have 

seemed highly suspect. If we were dealing with an organisation which 

had survived for some nine centuries, we would have to credit it with 

considerable flexibility and adaptability. Its very survival would 

have hinged on these qualities; and without them it would have 

degenerated into an empty form, as devoid of any real power as, say, 

the Yeomen of the Guard. In short, the Prieure de Sion could not have 

remained rigid and immutable for the whole of its history. On the 

contrary, it would have been compelled to change periodically, modify 

itself and its activities, adjust itself and its objectives to the 

shifting kaleidoscope of world affairs just as cavalry units during the 

last century have been compelled to exchange their horses for tanks and 

armoured cars. In its capacity to conform to a given age and exploit 


and master its technology and resources, Sion would have constituted a 

parallel to what seemed its exoteric rival, the 

Roman Catholic Church; or perhaps, to cite a deceptively sinister 

example, to the organisation known as the Mafia. We did not, of 

course, see the 

Prieure de Sion as unadulterated villains. But the Mafia at least provided testimony of 

how, by adapting itself from age to age, a secret society could exist, and of the kind of 

power it could exercise. 

The Prieure de Sion in France 

According to the "Prieure documents', Sion between 1306 and 1480 

possessed nine command eries In 1481when Rene d'Anjou died this number 

was supposedly expanded to twenty-seven. The most important are listed 

as having been situated at Bourges, Gisors, Jarnac, Mont Saint-Michel, 


Paris, Le Puy, Solesmes and Stenay. And, the Dossiers secrets add cryptically, there was 

'an arch called Beth-Ania house of Anne situated at Rennes-leChateau'." It is not clear 

precisely what this passage means, except that Rennes-leChateau would appear to enjoy 

some kind of highly special significance. And surely it cannot be coincidental that 

Sauniere, on building his villa, then christened it Villa Bethania. 

According to the Dossiers secrets, the commandery at Gisors dated from 1306 and was 

situated in the rue de Vienne. From here it supposedly communicated, via an 

underground passageway, with the local cemetery and with the subterranean chapel of 

Sainte-Catherine located beneath the fortress. In the sixteenth century this chapel, or 

perhaps a crypt adjacent to it, is said to have become a depository for the archives of the 

Prieure de Sion, housed in thirty coffers. 

Early in 1944, when Gisors was occupied by German personnel, a special 

military mission was sent from Berlin, with instructions to plan a 

series of excavations beneath the fortress. The Allied invasion of 

Normandy thwarted any such undertaking; but not long after, a French 

workman named 

Roger Lhomoy embarked on excavations of his own. In 1946 Lhomoy 

announced to the Mayor of Gisors that he had found an underground 


chapel containing nineteen sarcophagi of stone and thirty coffers of 
metal. His petition to excavate further, and make public his 
discovery, was delayed almost deliberately, it might seem by a welter 
of official red tape. At last, in 1962, Lhomoy commenced his requested 
excavations at 

Gisors. They were conducted under the auspices of Andre Malraux, 

Minister of Culture at the time, and were not officially open to the public. 
Certainly no coffers or sarcophagi were found. Whether the underground 
chapel was found has been debated in the press, as well as in various 
books and articles. Lhomoy insisted he did find his way again to the 
chapel, but its contents had been removed. Whatever the truth of the 
matter, there is mention of the subterranean chapel of Sainte-Catherine 
in two old manuscripts, one dated 1696 and the other 1375.1 

On this basis, Lhomoy's story at least becomes plausible. So does the assertion that the 
subterranean chapel was a depository for Sion's archives. For we, in our own research, 
found conclusive proof that the Prieure de Sion continued to exist for at least three 
centuries after the Crusades and the dissolution of the Knights Templar. Between the 
early fourteenth and early seventeenth centuries, for example, documents pertinent to 
Orleans, and to Sion's base there at Saint-Samson, make sporadic references to the 
Order. Thus it is on record that in the early sixteenth century members of the Prieure de 
Sion at Orleans by flouting their "rule' and "refusing to live in common' incurred the 
displeasure of the pope and the king of France. Towards the end of the fifteenth century 
the Order was also accused of a number of of fences failing to observe their rule, living 
"individually' rather than "in common', being licentious, residing outside the walls of Saint- 
Samson, boycotting divine services and neglecting to rebuild the walls of the house, which 
had been seriously damaged in 1562. By 1619 the authorities seemed to have lost 

In that year, according to the records, the Prieure de Sion was evicted 

Saint-Samson and the house was made over to the Jesuit s.3 
From 1619 onwards we could find no reference to the Prieure de Sion 
not, at any rate, under that name. But if nothing else, we could at 
least prove its existence until the seventeenth century. And yet the 
proof itself, such as it was, raised a number of crucial questions. In 


the first place the references we found cast no light whatever on Map 

6 The Duchy of Lorraine in the Mid-Sixteenth Century 


LIEGE ~.ll' 



::: I 1IKRAIN 





Sion's real activities, objectives, interests or possible influence. In the second place these 

references, it seemed, bore witness only to something of trifling consequence a curiously 

elusive fraternity of monks or religious devotees whose behaviour, though unorthodox and 

perhaps clandestine, was of relatively minor import. We could not reconcile the 

apparently remiss occupants of Saint Samson with the celebrated and legendary Rose- 

Croix, or a band of wayward monks with an institution whose Grand Masters supposedly 

comprised some of the most illustrious names in Western history and culture. 

According to the "Prieure documents', Sion was an organisation of considerable power 

and influence, responsible for creating the Templars and manipulating the course of 

international affairs. The references we found suggested nothing of such magnitude. 

One possible explanation, of course, was that Saint Samson at Orleans 

was but an isolated seat, and probably a minor one, of Sion's 


activities. And indeed, the list of Sion's important command eries in 

the Dossiers secrets does not even include 

Orleans. If Sion was in fact a force to be reckoned with, Orleans can only have been one 

small fragment of a much broader pattern. And if this were the case, we would have to 

look for traces of the Order elsewhere. 

The Dukes of Guise and Lorraine 

During the sixteenth century the house of Lorraine and its cadet branch, the house of 

Guise, made a concerted and determined attempt to topple the Valois dynasty of France 

to exterminate the Valois line and claim the French throne. This attempt, on several 

occasions, came within a hair's breadth of dazzling success. In the course of some thirty 

years all Valois rulers, heirs and princes were wiped out, and the line driven to extinction. 

The attempt to seize the French throne extended across three 

generations of the Guise and Lorraine families. It came closest to 

success in the 1550s and 1560s under the auspices of Charles, Cardinal 

of Lorraine and his brother, Francois, Duke of Guise. Charles and 

Franqois were related to the 

Gonzaga family of Mantua and to Charles de Montpensier, Constable of 

Bourbon listed in the Dossiers secrets as Grand Master of Sion until 

1527. Moreover, Francois, Duke of Guise, was married to Anne d'Este, 

Duchess of Gisors. And in his machinations for the throne he seems to 

have received covert aid and support from Ferrante de Gonzaga, 

allegedly Grand 

Master of Sion from 1527 until 1575. 

Both Francois and his brother, the cardinal of Lorraine, have been stigmatised by later 

historians as rabidly bigoted and fanatic Catholics, intolerant, brutal and bloodthirsty. But 

there is substantial evidence to suggest that this reputation is to some extent unwarranted, 

at least so far as adherence to Catholicism is concerned. 

Francois and his brother appear, quite patently, to have been brazen, 

if cunning, opportunists, courting both Catholics and Protestants in 

the name of their ulterior design." In 1562, for example, at the 

Council of Trent, the cardinal of Lorraine launched an attempt to 


decentralise the papacy to confer autonomy on local bishops and 1 The 

Dukes of Guise and Lofraine 


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restore the ecclesiastical hierarchy to what it had been in 

Merovingian times. 

By 1563 Francois de Guise was already virtually king when he fell to an 

assassin's bullet. His brother, the cardinal of Lorraine, died twelve 

years later, in 1575. But the vendetta against the French royal line 

did not cease. In 1 584 the new duke of Guise and new cardinal of 

Lorraine embarked on a fresh assault against the throne. Their chief 

ally in this enterprise was Louis de Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers who, 

according to the "Prieure documents', had become Grand Master of Sion 

nine years before. The banner of the conspirators was the Cross of 

Lorraine the former emblem of Rene d'Anjou.s 

The feud continued. By the end of the century the Valois were at last extinct. But the 

house of Guise had bled itself to death in the process, and could put forward no eligible 

candidate for a throne that finally lay within its grasp. 

It is simply not known whether there was an organised secret society, or secret order, 

supporting the houses of Guise and Lorraine. 

Certainly they were aided by an international network of emissaries, 

ambassadors, assassins, agents provocateurs, spies and agents who might 

well have comprised such a clandestine institution. According to 

Gerard de We, one of these agents was Nostradamus; and there are other 

"Prieure documents' which echo M. de We's contention. In any case, 

there is abundant evidence to suggest that Nostradamus was indeed a 

secret agent working for Franqois de 

Guise and Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine. s 

If Nostradamus was an agent for the houses of Guise and Lorraine, he 

would have been responsible not only for providing them with important 

information-concerning the activities and plans of their adversaries, 

but he would also, in his capacity as astrologer to the French court, 

have been privy to all manner of intimate secrets, as well as quirks 

and weaknesses of personality. By playing on vulnerabilities with 

which he had become acquainted, he could have psychologically 

manipulated the Valois into the hands of their enemies. And by virtue 

of his familiarity with their horoscopes, he might well have advised 

their enemies on, say, an apparently propitious moment for 

assassination. Many of Nostradamus's prophecies, in short, may not 


have been prophecies at all. They may have been cryptic messages, 

ciphers, schedules, timetables, instructions, blueprints for action. 

Whether this was actually the case or not, there is no question that 

some of Nostradamus's prophecies were not prophecies but referred, 

quite explicitly, to the past to the Knights Templar, the Merovingian 

dynasty, the history of the house of Lorraine. A striking number of 

them refer to the Razes the old comte of Rennes-leChateau." And the 

numerous quatrains which refer to the advent of 'le Grand Monarch' the 

Great Monarch indicate that this sovereign will derive ultimately from 

the Languedoc. Our research revealed an additional fragment which 

linked Nostradamus even more directly to our investigation. According 

to Gerard de Sede,e as well as to popular legend, Nostradamus, before 

embarking on his career as prophet, spent considerable time in 

Lorraine. This would appear to have been some sort of novitiate, or 

period of probation, after which he was supposedly 'initiated' into 

some portentous secret. More specifically he is said to have been 

shown an ancient and arcane book, on which he based all his own 

subsequent work. And this book was reportedly divulged to him at a 

very significant place the mysterious Abbey of Orval, donated by 

Godfroi de 

Bouillon's foster-mother, where our research suggested that the Prieure 


Sion may have had its inception. In any case, Orval continued, for another two centuries, 

to be associated with the name of Nostradamus. 

As late as the 

French Revolution and the Napoleonic era books of prophecies, purportedly authored by 

Nostradamus, were issuing from Orval. 

The Bid for the Throne of France 

By the mid-1 620s the throne of France was occupied by Louis XIII. But the power behind 

the throne, and the real architect of French policy, was the king's prime minister, Cardinal 

Richelieu. Richelieu is generally acknowledged to have been the arch-Machiavel, the 

supreme machinator, of his age. He may have been something more as well. 

While Richelieu established an unprecedented stability in France, the 


rest of Europe and especially Germany flamed in the throes of the 

Thirty Years War. In its origins the Thirty 

Years War was not essentially religious. Nevertheless, it quickly 

became polarised in religious terms. On one side were the staunchly 

Catholic forces of Spain and Austria. On the other were the Protestant 

armies of Sweden and the small German principalities -including the 

Palatinate of the Rhine, whose rulers, Elector Frederick and his wife 

Elizabeth Stuart, were in exile at the Hague. Frederick and his allies 

in the field were endorsed and supported by "Rosicrucian' thinkers and 

writers both on the continent and in 


In 1633 Cardinal Richelieu embarked on an audacious and seemingly 

incredible policy. He brought France into the Thirty Years War but not 

on the side one would expect. For Richelieu, a number of 

considerations took precedence over his religious obligations as 

cardinal. He sought to establish French supremacy in Europe. He 

sought to neutralise the perpetual and traditional threat posed to 

French security by Austria and Spain. And he sought to shatter the 

Spanish hegemony which had obtained for more than a century especially 

in the old Merovingian heartland of the Low 

Countries and parts of modern Lorraine. As a result of these 


Europe was taken aback by the unprecedented action of a Catholic cardinal, presiding 

over a Catholic country, dispatching Catholic troops to fight on the Protestant side against 

other Catholics. No historian has ever suggested that Richelieu was a "Rosicrucian'. But 

he could not possibly have done anything more in keeping with "Rosicrucian' attitudes, or 

more likely to win him "Rosicrucian' favour. 

In the meantime the house of Lorraine had again begun to aspire, albeit 

obliquely, to the French throne. This time the claimant was Gaston 

d'Orleans, younger brother of Louis XIII. Gaston was not himself of 

the house of Lorraine. In 1632, however, he had married the duke of 

Lorraine's sister. His heir would thus carry Lorraine blood on the 

maternal side; and if Gaston ascended the throne Lorraine would preside 

over France within another generation. This prospect was sufficient to 

mobilise support. Among those asserting Gaston's right of succession 

we found an individual we had encountered before Charles, Duke of 

Guise. Charles had been tutored by the young Robert Fludd. And he had 


married HenrietteCatherine de joyeuse, owner of Couiza and Arques 

-where the tomb identical to the one in Poussin's painting is located. 

Attempts to depose Louis in favour of Gaston failed, but time it seemed was on Gaston's 
side; or at least on the side of Gaston's heirs, for Louis XIII and his wife, Anne of Austria, 
remained childless. Rumours were already in circulation that the king was homosexual or 
sexually incapacitated; and indeed, according to certain reports following his subsequent 
autopsy, he was pronounced incapable of begetting children. 
But then, in 1638, after twenty-three years of sterile marriage, Anne 
of Austria suddenly produced a child. Few people at the time believed 
in the boy's legitimacy, and there is still considerable doubt about 
it. According to both contemporary and later writers, the child's true 
father was Cardinal Richelieu, or perhaps a "stud' employed by 
Richelieu, quite possibly his protege and successor, 
Cardinal Mazarin. It has even been claimed that after Louis XIN's 

Mazarin and Anne of Austria were secretly married. 
In any case the birth of an heir to Louis XIII was a serious blow to 
the hopes of Gaston d'Orleans and the house of Lorraine. And when 
Louis and 

Richelieu both died in 1642, the first in a series of concerted attempts was launched to 
oust Mazarin and keep the young Louis XIV from the throne. 

These attempts, which began as popular uprisings, culminated in a civil war that flared 
intermittently for ten years. To historians that war is known as the Fronde. In addition to 
Gaston d'Orleans, its chief instigators included a number of names, families and titles 
already familiar to us. 

There was Frederic-Maurice de la Tour dAuvergne, Duke of Bouillon. 
There was the viscount of Turenne. There was the duke of Longueville 
-grandson of 

Louis de Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers and alleged Grand Master of Sion half a century 
before. The headquarters and capital of the frondeurs was, significantly enough, the 
ancient Ardennes town of Stenay. 
The Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement 


According to the "Prieure documents', the Prieure de Sion, during the 

mid-seventeenth century, "dedicated itself to deposing Mazarin'. 

Quite clearly it would seem to have been unsuccessful. The Fronde 


Louis XIV did mount the throne of France and Mazarin, though briefly removed, was 

quickly reinstated, presiding as prime minister until his death in 1660. But if Sion did in 

fact devote itself to opposing Mazarin, we at last had some vector on it, some means of 

locating and identifying it. Given the families involved in the Fronde families whose 

genealogies also figured in the "Prieure documents' it seemed reasonable to associate 

Sion with the instigators of that turmoil. 

The "Prieure documents' had asserted that Sion actively opposed Mazarin. 

They also asserted that certain families and titles Lorraine, for example, Gonzaga, Nevers, 

Guise, Longueville and Bouillon had not only been intimately connected with the Order, 

but also provided it with some of its Grand Masters. And history confirmed that it was 

these names and titles which had loomed in the forefront of resistance to the cardinal. It 

thus seemed that we had located the Prieure de Sion, and that we had identified at least 

some of its members. If we were right, Sion during the period in question, at any rate was 

simply another name for a movement and a conspiracy which historians had long 

recognised and acknowledged. 

But if the f rondeurs constituted an enclave of opposition to Mazarin, 

they were not the only such enclave. There were others as well, 

overlapping enclaves which functioned not only during the Fronde but 

long afterwards. The 

"Prieure documents' themselves refer repeatedly and insistently to the 

Compagriie du Saint-Sacrement. They imply, quite clearly, that the 

Compagnie was in fact 

Sion, or a fapade for Sion, operating under another name. 

And certainly the Compagnie in its structure, organisation, activities and modes of 

operation conformed to the picture we had begun to form of Sion. 

The Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement was a highly organised and efficient secret society. 

There is no question of it being fictitious. On the contrary, its existence has been 

acknowledged by its contemporaries, as well as by subsequent historians. It has been 

exhaustively documented, and numerous books and articles have been devoted to it. Its 

name is familiar enough in France, and it continues to enjoy a certain fashionable 



Some of its own papers have even come to light. 

The Compagnie is said to have been founded, between 1627 and 1629, by a nobleman 

associated with Gaston d'Orleans. The individuals who guided and shaped its policies 

remained scrupulously anonymous, however, and are still so today. The only names 

definitively associated with it are those of intermediate or lower-ranking members of its 

hierarchy the 'front men',, so to speak, who acted on instructions from above. One of 

these was the brother of the duchess of Longueville. Another was Charles Fouquet, 

brother of Louis XIV's Superintendent of Finances. 

And there was the uncle of the philosopher Fenelon who, half a century 

later, exerted a profound influence on Freemasonry through the 

Chevalier Ramsay. Among those most prominently associated with the 

Compagnie were the mysterious figure now known as Saint 

Vincent de Paul, and Nicolas Pavilion, bishop of Alet, the town a few 

miles from Rennes-leChateau, and Jean Jacques Olier, founder of the 

Seminary of 

Saint Sulpice. Indeed Saint Sulpice is now generally acknowledged to 

have been the Compagnie's 'centre of operations'. 9 

In its organisation and activities the Compagnie echoed the Order of 


Temple and prefigured later Freemasonry. Working from Saint Sulpice, it established an 

intricate network of provincial branches or chapters. Provincial members remained 

ignorant of their directors' identities. They were often manipulated on behalf of objectives 

they themselves did not share. 

They were even forbidden to contact each other except via Paris, thus 

ensuring a highly centralised control. And even in Paris the 

architects of the society remained unknown to those who obediently 

served them. In short the Compagnie comprised a hydra-headed 

organisation with an invisible heart. To this day it is not known who 

constituted the heart. Nor what constituted the heart. But it is 

known that the heart beat in accordance with some veiled and weighty 

secret. Contemporary accounts refer explicitly to 'the Secret which is 

the core of the Compagnie'. According to one of the society's 

statutes, discovered long afterwards, "The primary channel which shapes 

the spirit of the Compagnie, and which is essential to it, is the 

Secret. " 

So far as uninitiated novice members were concerned, the Compagnie was 


ostensibly devoted to charitable work, especially in regions 

devastated by the Wars of Religion and subsequently by the Fronde in Picardy, for 

instance, Champagne and Lorraine. It is now generally accepted, however, that this 

"charitable work' was merely a convenient and ingenious facade, which had little to do 

with the Compagnie's real raison detre. The real raison detre was twofold to engage in 

what was called 'pious espionage', gathering 'intelligence information', and to infiltrate the 

most important offices in the land, including circles in direct proximity to the throne. 

In both of these objectives the Compagnie seems to have enjoyed a 

signal success. As a member of the royal "Council of Conscience', for 


Vincent de Paul became confessor to Louis XIII. He was also an intimate adviser to Louis 

XIV until his opposition to Mazarin forced him to resign this position. And the queen 

mother, Anne of Austria, was, in many respects, a hapless pawn of the Compagnie, who 

for a time at any rate managed to turn her against Mazarin. But the Compagnie did not 

confine itself exclusively to the throne. By the mid seventeenth century, it could wield 

power through the aristocracy, the parlement, the judiciary and the police -so much so, 

that on a number of occasions these bodies openly dared to defy the king. 

In our researches we found no historian, writing either at the time or 

more recently, who adequately explained the Compagnie du 

Saint-Sacrement. Most authorities depict it as a militant 

arch-Catholic organisation, a bastion of rigidly entrenched and fanatic 

orthodoxy. The same authorities claim that it devoted itself to 

weeding out heretics. But why, in a devoutly 

Catholic country, should such an organisation have had to function with such strict 

secrecy? And who constituted a "heretic' at that time? 

-Protestants? Jansenists? In fact, there were numerous Protestants and 

Jansenists within the ranks of the Compagnie. 

If the Compagnie was piously Catholic, it should, in theory, have 


Cardinal Mazarin who, after all, embodied Catholic interests at the time. 

Yet the Compagnie militantly opposed Mazarin so much so that the 

cardinal, losing his temper, vowed he would employ all his resources to 

destroy it. What is more, the Compagnie provoked vigorous hostility in 


other conventional quarters as well. The Jesuits, for instance, 

assiduously campaigned against it. Other 

Catholic authorities accused the Compagnie of 'heresy' the very thing 


Compagnie itself purported to oppose. In 1 651 the bishop of Toulouse charged the 

Compagnie with 'impious practices' and hinted at something highly irregular in its 

induction ceremonies" - a curious echo of the charges levelled against the Templars. He 

even threatened members of the society with excommunication. Most of them brazenly 

defied this threat an extremely singular response from supposedly 'pious' Catholics. 

The Compagnie had been formed when the "Rosicrucian'furore was still at its zenith. The 

'invisible confraternity' was believed to be everywhere, omnipresent and this engendered 

not only panic and paranoia, but also the inevitable witch-hunts. And yet no trace was 

ever found of a card-carrying "Rosicrucian' nowhere, least of all in Catholic France. So far 

as France was concerned, the "Rosicrucians' remained figments of an alarmist popular 

imagination. Or did they? If there were indeed "Rosicrucian' interests determined to 

establish a foothold in France, what better facade could there be than an organisation 

dedicated to hunting out "Rosicrucians'? In short the "Rosicrucians' may have furthered 

their objectives, and gained a following in France, by posing as their own arch-enemy. 

The Compagnie successfully defied both Mazarin and Louis XIV. In 1660, 

less than a year before Mazarin's death, the king officially pronounced 

against the Compagnie and ordered its dissolution. For the next five 

years the 

Compagnie cavalierly ignored the royal edict. At last, in 1665, it concluded that it could 

not continue to operate in its 'present form'. 

Accordingly all documents pertinent to the society were recalled and concealed in some 

secret Paris depository. This depository has never been located, although it is generally 

believed to have been Saint Sulpice."2 If it was, the Compagnie's archives would thus 

have been available, more than two centuries later, to men like Abbe smile Hof fet. 

But though the Compagnie ceased to exist in what was then its 'present form', none the 

less it continued to operate at least until the beginning of the next century, still constituting 

a thorn in Louis XIV's side. 


According to unconfirmed traditions, it survived well into the 

twentieth century. 

Whether this last assertion is true or not, there is no question that 


Compagnie survived its supposed demise in 1665. In 1667 Moliere, a 

loyal adherent of Louis XIV, attacked the Compagnie through certain 

veiled but pointed allusions in Le Tartuffe. Despite its apparent 

extinction, the 

Compagnie retaliated by getting the play suppressed and keeping it so 

for two years, despite Moliere's royal patronage. And the Compagnie 

seems to have employed its own literary spokesmen as well. It is 

rumoured, for example, to have included La Rochefoucauld who was 

certainly active in the Fronde. According to Gerard de Sede, La 

Fontaine was also a member of the Compagnie, and his charming, 

ostensibly innocuous fables were in fact allegorical attacks on the 

throne. This is not inconceivable. Louis XIV disliked La Fontaine 

intensely, and actively opposed his admission to the 

Academie Fran~aisc. And La Fontaine's sponsors and patrons included the duke of 

Guise, the duke of Bouillon, the viscount of Turenne and the widow of Gaston d'Orleans. 

In the Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement we thus found an actual secret society, much of 

whose history was on record. It was ostensibly Catholic, but was nevertheless linked with 

distinctly un-Catholic activities. It was intimately associated with certain important 

aristocratic families families who had been active in the Fronde and whose genealogies 

figured in the "Prieure documents'. It was closely connected with Saint Sulpice. It worked 

primarily by infiltration and came to exercise enormous influence. 

And it was actively opposed to Cardinal Mazarin. In all these respects, it conformed 

almost perfectly to the image of the Prieure de Sion as presented in the "Prieure 

documents'. If Sion was indeed active during the seventeenth century, we could 

reasonably assume it to have been synonymous with the Compagnie. Or perhaps with 

the power behind the Compagnie. 

Chateau Barberie 


According to the "Prieure documents', Sion's opposition to Mazarin 

provoked bitter retribution from the cardinal. Among the chief victims 

of this retribution are said to have been the Plantard family lineal 

descendants of Dagobert II and the Merovingian dynasty. In 1548, the 

"Prieure documents' state, jean des Plantard had married Marie de 

Saint-Clair thus forging another link between his family and that of 


Saint-Clair/Gisors. By that time, too, the Plantard family was 

supposedly established at a certain Chateau Barberie near Nevers, in 

the Nivernais region of France. This chateau supposedly constituted 

the Plantards' official residence for the next century. Then, on July 

11 th , 1659, according to the "Prieure documents', Mazarin ordered the 

razing and total destruction of the chateau. In the ensuing 

conflagration, the Plantard family is said to have lost all its 

possessions. '3 

No established or conventional history book, no biography of Mazarin, confirmed these 

assertions. Our researches yielded no mention whatever of a Plantard family in the 

Nivernais, or, at first, of any Chateau Barberie. 

And yet Mazarin, for some unspecified reason, did covet the Nivernais 

and the duchy of Nevers. Eventually he managed to purchase them and 

the contract is signed July 1 1 th , 1 659, "4 the very day on which 


Barberie is said to have been destroyed. 

This prompted us to investigate the matter further. Eventually we 

exhumed a few disparate fragments of evidence. They were not enough to 

explain things, but they did attest to the veracity of the "Prieure 

documents'. In a compilation, dated 1506, of estates and holdings in 

the Nivernais a 

Barberie was indeed mentioned. A charter of 1575 mentioned a hamlet in 


Nivernais called Les Plantards. "5 

Most convincing of all, it transpired that the existence of Chateau 

Ba~berie had in fact been definitively established. During 1874-5 

members of the Society of Letters, Sciences and Arts of Nevers 

undertook an exploratory excavation on the site of certain ruins. It 

was a difficult enterprise, for the ruins were almost unrecognisable as 

such, the stones had been vitrified by fire and the site itself was 

thickly overgrown with trees. Eventually, however, remnants of a town 

wall and of a chateau were uncovered. This site is now acknowledged to 


have been Barberie. Before its destruction it apparently consisted of 

a small fortified town and chateau. '6 And it is within a short distance of the old hamlet of 

Les Plantards. 

We could now say that Chateau Barberie indisputably existed and was destroyed by fire. 

And, given the hamlet of Les Plantards, there was no reason to doubt it had been owned 

by a family of that name. The curious fact was that there was no record of when the 

chateau had been destroyed, nor by whom. If Mazarin was responsible, he would seem 

to have taken extraordinary pains to eradicate all traces of his action. 

Indeed there seemed to have been a methodical and systematic attempt to 

wipe Chateau 

Barberie from the map and from history. Why embark on such a process of obliteration, 

unless there was something to hide? 

Nicolas Fouquet 

Mazarin had other enemies besides the frondeurs and the Compagnie du 

Saint-Sacrement. Among the most powerful of them was Nicolas Fouquet, who in 1653, 

had become Superintendent of Finances to Louis XIV. A gifted, precocious and ambitious 

man, Fouquet, within the next few years, had become the wealthiest and most powerful 

individual in the kingdom. He was sometimes called "the true king of France'. And he 

was not without political aspirations. It was rumoured that he intended to make Brittany an 

independent duchy and himself its presiding duke. 

Fouquet's mother was a prominent member of the Compagnie du 

Saint-Sacrement. So was his brother Charles, Archbishop of Narbonne in 


Languedoc. His younger brother, Louis, was also an ecclesiastic. In 


Nicolas Fouquet dispatched Louis to Rome, for reasons which -though not 

necessarily mysterious have never been explained. From Rome, Louis 

wrote the enigmatic letter quoted in Chapter 1 the letter that speaks 

of a meeting with Poussin and a secret "which even kings would have 

great pains to draw from him'. And indeed, if Louis was indiscreet in 


Poussin gave nothing whatever away. His personal seal bore the motto 




In 1661 Louis XIV ordered the arrest of Nicolas Fouquet. The charges 

were extremely general and nebulous. There were vague accusations of misappropriation 

of funds, and others, even more vague, of sedition. On the basis of these accusations, all 

Fouquet's goods and properties were placed under royal sequestration. But the king 

forbade his officers to touch the Superintendent's papers or correspondence. He insisted 

on sifting through these documents himself personally and in private. 

The ensuing trial dragged on for four years and became the sensation 


France at the time, violently splitting and pol arising public opinion. 

Louis Fouquet who had met with Poussin and written the letter from Rome was dead by 

then. But the Superintendent's mother and surviving brother mobilised the Compagnie de 

Saint-Sacrement, whose membership also included one of the presiding judges. The 

Compagnie threw the whole of its support behind the Superintendent, working actively 

through the courts and the popular mind. Louis XIV who was not usually bloodthirsty 

demanded nothing less than the death sentence. Refusing to be intimidated by him, the 

court passed a sentence of perpetual banishment. Still demanding death, the enraged 

king removed the recalcitrant judges and replaced them with others more obedient; but 

the Compagnie still seems to have defied him. 

Eventually, in 1665, Fouquet was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment. On the king's 

orders he was kept in rigorous isolation. He was forbidden all writing implements, all 

means whereby he might communicate with anyone. And any soldiers who conversed 

with him were allegedly consigned to prison ships or, in some cases, hanged." 

In 1665, the year of Fouquet's imprisonment, Poussin died in Rome. During the years that 

followed, Louis XIV persistently endeavoured through his agents to obtain a single 

painting "Les Bergers d'Arcadie'. In 1685 he finally managed to do so. But the painting 

was not placed on display not even in the royal residence. On the contrary, it was 

sequestered in the king's private apartments, where no one could view it without the 

monarch's personal authority. 

There is a footnote to Fouquet's story, for his own disgrace, whatever 


its causes and magnitude, was not visited on his children. By the 

middle of the following century Fouquet's grandson, the marquis of 

Belle-Isle, had become, in effect, the single most important man in 

France. In 1718 the marquis of Belle-Isle ceded Belle-Isle itself a 

fortified island off the Breton coast to the crown. In return he 

obtained certain interesting territories. One was Longueville, whose 

former dukes and duchesses had figured recurrently in our 

investigation. And another was Gisors. In 1718 the marquis of 

Belle-Isle became count of 

Gisors. In 1742 he became duke of Gisors. And in 1748 Gisors was raised to the exalted 

status of premier duchy. 

Nicolas Poussin 

Poussin himself was born in 1 594 in a small town called Les Andelys - a few miles, we 

discovered, from Gisors. As a young man he left France and established residence in 

Rome, where he spent the duration of his life, returning only once to his native country. 

He returned to France in the early 1640s at the request of Cardinal Richelieu, who had 

invited him to undertake a specific commission. 

Although he was not actively involved in politics, and few historians have touched on his 

political interests, Poussin was in fact closely associated with the Fronde. He did not 

leave his refuge in Rome. But his correspondence of the period reveals him to have been 

deeply committed to the anti-Mazarin movement, and on surprisingly familiar terms with a 

number of influential frondeurs so much so, indeed, that, in speaking of them, he 

repeatedly uses the word "we', thus clearly implicating himself." 

We had already traced the motifs of the underground stream Alpheus, 


Arcadia and Arcadian shepherds, to Rene d'Anjou. We now undertook to 

find an antecedent for the specific phrase in Poussin's painting "Et 


Arcadia Ego'. It appeared in an earlier painting by Poussin, in which 

the tomb is surmounted by a skull and does not constitute an edifice of 

its own, but is embedded in the side of a cliff. In the foreground of 

this painting a bearded water-deity reposes in an attitude of brooding 

moroseness the river god Alpheus, lord of the underground stream. The 


work dates from 1630 or 1635, five or ten years Fig. 1 The Plantard 

Family Crest 


— n'-aK~ca t/ 

~(_l ~ I I ; r 

~ lll-l — II 

l~l~. lipl 
I I ~_l 

/'~/~ I I I, (~-~y , I I I ~ I lii~~r . I Mi I 

I |~~ | ~<~ ~|y\'%l'i_ 

i 1 ai 


~1 d o~ aaWc earlier than the more familiar version of "Les Bergers 


The phrase "Et in Arcadia Ego' made its public debut between 1618 and 1623 in a 

painting by Giovanni Francesco Guercino - a painting which constitutes the real basis for 

Poussin's work. In Guercino's painting two shepherds, entering a clearing in a forest, 

have just happened upon a stone sepulchre. 

It bears the now famous inscription, and there is a large skull resting 

on top of it. Whatever the symbolic significance of this work, 

Guercino himself raised a number of questions. Not only was he well 

versed in esoteric tradition. He also seems to have been conversant 

with the lore of secret societies, and some of his other paintings deal 

with themes of a specifically Masonic character a good twenty years 

before lodges started proliferating in England and Scotland. One 

painting, "The Raising of the 

Master', pertains explicitly to the Masonic legend of Hiram Abiff, 

architect and builder of Solomon's temple. It was executed nearly a 

century before the Hiram legend is generally believed to have found its 

way into 


In the "Prieure documents', "Et in Arcadia Ego' is said to have been 

the official device of the Plantard family since at least the twelfth 

century, when jean de Plantard married Idoine de Gisors. According to 

one source quoted in the "Prieure documents'" it is cited as such as 

early as 1210 by one Robert, Abbot of Mont-Saint-Michel. z We were 

unable to obtain access to the archives of Mont Saint-Michel, and so 

could not verify this assertion. Our research convinced us, however, 

that the date of 1 21 was demonstrably wrong. In point of fact, there 

was no abbot of 

Mont-Saint-Michel named Robert in 1210. On the other hand, one Robert 


Torigny was indeed abbot of Mont Saint-Michel between 1 154 and 1 186. 


Robert de Torigny is known to have been a prolific and assiduous 

historian whose hobbies included collecting mottoes, devices, blazons 

and coats-of-arms of noble families throughout Christendom .2' 

Whatever the origin of the phrase, "Et in Arcadia Ego' seems, for 


Guercino and Poussin, to have more than a line of elegiac poetry. 

Quite clearly it seems to have enjoyed some important secret 


significance, which was recognisable or identifiable to certain other 

people the equivalent, in short, of a Masonic sign or password. And it is precisely in such 

terms that one statement in the "Prieure documents' defines the character of symbolic or 

allegorical art: 

Allegorical works have this advantage, that a single word suffices to illumine connections 

which the multitude cannot grasp. Such works are available to everyone, but their 

significance addresses itself to an elite. 

Above and beyond the masses, sender and receiver understand each other. The 

inexplicable success of certain works derives from this quality of allegory, which 

constitutes not a mere fashion, but a form of esoteric communication." 

In its context, this statement was made with reference to Poussin. 


Frances Yates has demonstrated, however, it might equally well be applied to the works of 

Leonardo, Botticelli and other Renaissance artists. It might also be applied to later figures 

to Nodier, Hugo, Debussy, Cocteau and their respective circles. 

Rosslyn Chapel and Shugborough Hall 

In our previous research we had found a number of important links 


Sion's alleged Grand Masters of the seventeenth and eighteenth 

centuries and 

European Freemasonry. In the course of our study of Freemasonry we discovered certain 

other links as well. These additional links did not relate to the alleged Grand Masters as 

such, but they did relate to other aspects of our investigation. 

Thus, for example, we encountered repeated references to the Sinclair 

family Scottish branch of the Norman Saint-Clair/Gisors family. Their 

domain at Rosslyn was only a few miles from the former Scottish 

headquarters of the Knights Templar, and the chapel at Rosslyn built 

between 1446 and 1486 has long been associated with both Freemasonry 

and the Rose-Croix. In a charter believed to date from 1 601 , moreover, 


Sinclairs are recognised as "hereditary Grand Masters of Scottish 

Masonry'z3 This is the earliest specifically Masonic document on 

record. According to Masonic 


sources, however, the hereditary Grand Mastership was conferred on 


Sinclairs by James II, who ruled between 1437 and 1460 the age of Rene d'Anjou. 

Another and rather more mysterious piece of our jigsaw puzzle also 

surfaced in Britain this time in Staffordshire, which had been a hotbed 


Masonic activity in the early and mid-seventeenth century. When 


Radclyffe, alleged Grand Master of Sion, escaped from Newgate Prison in 1714, he was 

aided by his cousin, the earl of Lichfield. Later in the century the earl of Lichfield's line 

became extinct and his title lapsed. 

It was bought in the early nineteenth century by descendants of the Anson family, who are 

the present earls of Lichfield. 

The seat of the present earls of Lichfield is Shugborough Hall in 

Staffordshire. Formerly a bishop's residence, Shugborough was 

purchased by the Anson family in 1697. During the following century it 

was the residence of the brother of George Anson, the famous admiral 

who circumnavigated the globe. When George Anson died in 1762, an 

elegiac poem was read aloud in 

Parliament. One stanza of this poem reads: 

Upon that storied marble cast thine eye. 

The scene commands a moralising sigh. 

E'en in Arcadia's bless'd Elysian plains, 

Amidst the laughing nymphs and sportive swains, 

See festal joy subside, with melting grace, 

And pity visit the half-smiling face; 

Where now the dance, the lute, the nuptial feast, 

The passion throbbing in the lover's breast, 

Life's emblem here, in youth and vernal bloom, 

But reason's finger pointing at the tomb !24 

This would seem to be an explicit allusion to Poussin's painting and the inscription "Et in 

Arcadia Ego' right down to the "finger pointing at the tomb'. And in the grounds of 

Shugborough there is an imposing marble has relief executed at the command of the 

Anson family between 1761 and 1767. 

This has-relief comprises a reproduction reversed, mirror-fashion of 

Poussin's "Les Bergers d'Arcadie'. And immediately below it, there is 


an enigmatic inscription, which no one has ever satisfactorily 



D M 

The Pope's Secret Letter 

In 1738 Pope Clement XII issued a Papal Bull condemning and 

excommunicating all Freemasons, whom he pronounced 'enemies of the 

Roman Church'. It has never been altogether clear why they should have 

been regarded as such especially as many of them, like the Jacobites at 

Catholic. Perhaps the pope was aware of the connection we had discovered between 

early Freemasonry and the anti-Roman "Rosicrucians' of the seventeenth century. In any 

case some light may be shed on the matter by a letter released and published for the first 

time in 1962. This letter had been written by Pope Clement XII and addressed to an 

unknown correspondent. 

In its text the pope declares that Masonic thought rests on a heresy we 

had encountered repeatedly before the denial of Jesus's divinity. And 

he further asserts that the guiding spirits, the 'masterminds', 


Freemasonry are the same as those who provoked the Lutheran Reformation." 

The pope may well have been paranoid; but it is important to note that he is not speaking 

of nebulous currents of thought or vague traditions. On the contrary, he is speaking of a 

highly organised group of individuals -a sect, an order, a secret society who, through the 

ages, have dedicated themselves to subverting the edifice of Catholic Christianity. 

The Rock of Sion 

In the late eighteenth century, when different Masonic systems were 

proliferating wildly, the so-called Oriental Rite of Memphiszs made its 

appearance. In this rite the name Ormus occurred, to our knowledge, 

for the first time the name allegedly adopted by the Prieure Sion 

between 1 188 and 1307. According to the Oriental Rite of Mem phis, 


Ormus was an Egyptian sage who, around A.D. 46, amalgamated pagan and 

Christian mysteries and, in so doing, founded the 


In other eighteenth century Masonic rites there are repeated references 

to the "Rock of Sion' the same Rock of Sion which, as the "Prieure 

documents' quote, rendered the 'royal tradition' established by Godfroi 


Baudouin de Bouillon "equal' to that of any other reigning dynasty in 

Europe. We had previously assumed that the Rock of Sion was simply 


Sion the "high hill' south of Jerusalem on which Godfroi built an abbey to house the order 

which became the Prieure de Sion. But Masonic sources ascribe an additional 

significance to the Rock of Sion. Given their preoccupation with the Temple of Jerusalem, 

it is not surprising that they refer one to specific passages in the Bible. And in these 

passages the Rock of Sion is something more than a high hill. It is a particular stone 

overlooked or unjustifiably neglected during the building of the Temple, which must 

subsequently be retrieved and incorporated as the structure's keystone. According to 

Psalm 118, for example: 

The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. 

In Matthew 21 :42 Jesus alludes specifically to this psalm: 

Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is 

become the head of the corner. 

In Romans 9:33 there is another reference, rather more ambiguous: 

Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling stone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on 

him shall not be ashamed. 

In Acts 4:1 1 the Rock of Sion might well be interpreted as a metaphor 


Jesus himself: 

by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth .. . doth this man stand here before you whole. 

This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the 


In Ephesians 2:20 the equation of Jesus with the Rock of Sion becomes 


more apparent: built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, 

Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. 

And in 1 Peter 2:3-8 this equation is made even more explicit: 

the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, 

but chosen of God, and precious. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, 

an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 

Wherefore it is also contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, 

elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore 

which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the 

builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, 

and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient; 

whereunto also they were appointed. 

In the very next verse, the text goes on to stress themes whose significance did not 

become apparent to us until later. It speaks of an elect line of kings who are both spiritual 

and secular leaders, a line of priest-kings: 

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people .. . 

What were we to make of these baffling passages? What were we to make 

of the Rock of Sion the keystone of the Temple, which seemed to figure 

so saliently among the "inner secrets' of Freemasonry? What were we to 

make of the explicit identification of this keystone with Jesus 

himself? And what were we to make of that "royal tradition' which 

because founded on the 

Rock of Sion or on Jesus himself was "equal' to the reigning dynasties 


Europe during the Crusades?=' 

The Catholic Modernist Movement 

In 1833 Jean Baptiste Pitois, Charles Nodier's former disciple at the 

Arsenal Library, was an official in the Ministry of Public Education. zd 


And in that year the Ministry undertook an ambitious project to 

publish all hitherto suppressed documents pertinent to the history of France. Two 

committees were formed to preside over the enterprise. 

These committees included, among others, Victor 

Hugo, Jules Michelet and an authority on the Crusades, Baron Emmanuel Rey. 

Among the works subsequently published under the auspices of the Ministry of Public 

Education was Michelet's monumental Le Proces des Templiers an exhaustive 

compilation of Inquisition records dealing with the trials of the Knights Templar. Under the 

same auspices Baron Rey published a number of works dealing with the Crusades and 

the Frankish kingdom of Jerusalem. 

In these works there appeared in print for the first time original charters pertaining to the 

Prieure de Sion. At certain points the texts Rey quotes are almost verbatim with passages 

in the "Prieure documents'. 

In 1875 Baron Rey co-founded the Societe de 1 "Orient Latin ("Society of 


Latin or Frankish Middle East'). Based in Geneva, this society devoted 

itself to ambitious archaeological projects. It also published its own 

magazine, the Revue de FOrient Latin, which is now one of the primary 

sources for modern historians like Sir Steven Runciman, The Revue de 

FOrient Latin reproduced a number of additional charters of the Prieure 



Rey's research was typical of a new form of historical scholarship 

appearing in Europe at the time, most prominently in' Germany, which 

constituted an extremely serious threat to the Church. The 

dissemination of 

Darwinian thought and agnosticism had already produced a "crisis of 

faith' in the late nineteenth century, and the new scholarship 

magnified the crisis. In the past, historical research had been, for 

the most part, an unreliable affair, resting on highly tenuous 

foundations -on legend and tradition, on personal memoirs, on 

exaggerations promulgated for the sake of one or another cause. Only 

in the nineteenth century did German scholars begin introducing the 

rigorous, meticulous techniques that are now accepted as commonplace, 

the stockin-trade of any responsible historian. Such preoccupation 

with critical examination, with investigation of first-hand sources, 

with cross-references and exact chronology, established the 


conventional stereotype of the Teutonic pedant. But if German writers 
of the period tended to lose themselves in minutiae, they also provided a solid basis for 
inquiry. And for a number of major archaeological discoveries as well. The most famous 
example, of course, is Heinrich Schliemann's excavation of the site of Troy. 
It was only a matter of time before the techniques of German scholarship were applied, 
with similar diligence, to the Bible. And the Church, which rested on unquestioning 
acceptance of dogma, was well aware that the Bible itself could not withstand such critical 
scrutiny. In his best-selling and highly controversial Life of Jesus, Ernest Renan had 
already applied German methodology to the New Testament, and the results, for Rome, 
were extremely embarrassing. 

The Catholic Modernist Movement arose initially as a response to this new challenge. Its 
original objective was to produce a generation of ecclesiastical experts trained in the 
German tradition, who could defend the literal truth of Scripture with all the heavy 
ordnance of critical scholarship. As it transpired, however, the plan backfired. 
The more the 

Church sought to equip its younger clerics with the tools for combat in the modern 
polemical world, the more those same clerics began to desert the cause for which they 
had been recruited. Critical examination of the Bible revealed a multitude of 
inconsistencies, discrepancies and implications that were positively inimical to Roman 
dogma. And by the end of the century the Modernists were no longer the elite shock- 
troops the Church had hoped they would be, but defectors and incipient heretics. Indeed, 
they posed the most serious threat the Church had experienced since Martin Luther, and 
brought the entire edifice of Catholicism to the brink of a schism unparalleled for centuries. 
The hotbed for Modernist activity as it had been for the Compagnie du 
Saint-Sacrement was Saint Sulpice in Paris. Indeed, one of the most 
resonant voices in the Modernist movement was the man who was director 
of the Seminary of Saint Sulpice from 1 852 to 1 884.29 From Saint 

Modernist attitudes spread rapidly to the rest of France, and to Italy 

Spain. According to these attitudes, Biblical texts were not 
unimpugnably authoritative, but had to be understood in the specific 
context of their time. And the Modernists also rebelled against the 


increasing centralisation of ecclesiastical power especially the 

recently instituted doctrine of papal infallibility,3" which ran 

flagrantly counter to the new trend. Before long Modernist attitudes 

were being disseminated not only by intellectual clerics, but by 

distinguished and influential writers as well. Figures like Roger 

Martin du Gard in France, and Miguel de 

Unamuno in Spain, were among the primary spokesmen for Modernism. 

The Church responded with predictable vigour and wrath. The Modernists 

were accused of being Freemasons. Many of them were suspended or even 

excommunicated, and their books were placed on the Index. In 1903 Pope 

Leo XIII established the Pontifical Biblical Commission to monitor the 

work of scriptural scholars. In 1907 Pope Pius X issued a formal 

condemnation of 

Modernism. And on September 1 st , 1910, the Church demanded of its clerics an oath 

against Modernist tendencies. 

Nevertheless Modernism continued to flourish until the First World War 

diverted public attention to other concerns. Until 1914 it remained a 

cause celebre. One Modernist author, the Abbe Turmel, proved a 

particularly mischievous individual. While ostensibly behaving 

impeccably at his teaching post in Brittany, he published a series of 

Modernist works under no less than fourteen different pseudonyms. Each 

of them was placed on the 

Index, but not until 1929 was Turmel identified as their author. 

Needless to say, he was then summarily excommunicated. 

In the meantime Modernism spread to Britain, where it was warmly 

welcomed and endorsed by the Anglican Church. Among its Anglican 

adherents was 

William Temple, later archbishop of Canterbury, who declared that Modernism 'is what 

most educated people already believe '.3' One of Temple's associates was Canon A. L. 

Liney. And Liney knew the priest from whom we had received that portentous letter which 

spoke of 'incontrovertible proof that Jesus did not die on the cross. 

Liney, as we knew, had worked for some time in Paris, where he made the 

acquaintance of the Abbe tmile Hoffet the man to whom Sauniere brought 

the parchments found at Rennes-leChateau. With his expertise in 

history, language and linguistics, Hoffet was the typical young 


Modernist scholar of his age. He had not been trained at Saint 

Sulpice, however. On the contrary, he had been trained in Lorraine. 

At the Seminary 

School of Sion: La Colline inspiree.3z 

The Protocols of Sion 

One of the most persuasive testimonials we found to the existence and 

activities of the Prieure de Sion dated from the late nineteenth 


The testimonial in question is well enough known but it is not recognised as a testimonial. 

On the contrary it has always been associated with more sinister things. It has played a 

notorious role in recent history and still tends to arouse such violent emotions, bitter 

antagonisms and gruesome memories that most writers are happy to dismiss it out of 

hand. To the extent that this testimonial has contributed significantly to human prejudice 

and suffering, such a reaction is perfectly understandable. But if the testimonial has been 

criminally misused, our researches convinced us that it has also been seriously 


The role of Rasputin at the court of Nicholas and Alexandra of Russia is more or less 

generally known. It is not generally known, however, that there were influential, even 

powerful esoteric enclaves at the Russian court long before Rasputin. During the 1890s 

and 1900s one such enclave formed itself around an individual known as Monsieur 

Philippe, and around his mentor, who made periodic visits to the imperial court at 


And Monsieur Philippe's mentor was none other than the man called Papus33 the French 

esotericist associated with Jules Doinel (founder of the neo-Cathar church in the 

Languedoc), Peladan (who claimed to have discovered Jesus's tomb), Emma Calve and 

Claude Debussy. In a word, the "French occult revival' of the late nineteenth century had 

not only spread to Petersburg. Its representatives also enjoyed the privileged status of 

personal confidants to the czar and czarina. 

However, the esoteric enclave of Papus and Monsieur Philippe was 

actively opposed by certain other powerful interests the Grand Duchess 

Elizabeth, for example, who was intent on installing her own favourites 

in proximity to the imperial throne. One of the grand duchess's 

favourites was a rather contemptible individual known to posterity 


under the pseudonym of Sergei Nilus. Sometime around 1903 Nilus 

presented a highly controversial document to the czar a document that supposedly bore 

witness to a dangerous conspiracy. But if Nilus expected the czar's gratitude for his 

disclosure, he must have been grievously disappointed. The czar declared the document 

to be an outrageous fabrication, and ordered all copies of it to be destroyed. And Nilus 

was banished from the court in disgrace. 

Of course the document or, at any rate, a copy of it -survived. In 1 903 it was serialised in 

a newspaper but failed to attract any interest. In 1 905 it was published again this time as 

an appendix to a book by a distinguished mystical philosopher, Vladimir Soloviov. At this 

point it began to attract attention. In the years that followed it became one of the single 

most infamous documents of the twentieth century. 

The document in question was a tract, or, more strictly speaking, a 

purported social and political programme. It has appeared under a 

variety of slightly differing titles, the most common of which is The 

Protocols o f the Elders of Sion."4 The Protocols allegedly issued from 


Jewish sources. And for a great many anti-Semites at the time they were convincing proof 

of an "international Jewish conspiracy'. In 1919, for example, they were distributed to 

troops of the White Russian Army and these troops, during the next two years, massacred 

some 60,000 Jews who were held responsible for the 1917 Revolution. By 1 91 9 the 

Protocols were also being circulated by Alfred Rosenberg, later the chief racial 

theoretician and propagandist for the National Socialist Party in Germany. 

In Mein Kampf Hitler used the Protocols to fuel his own fanatical 

prejudices, and is said to have believed unquestioningly in their 

authenticity. In England the Protocols were immediately accorded 

credence by the Morning Post. Even The Times, in 1 921 , took them 

seriously and only later admitted its error. Experts today concur and 

rightly so, we concluded that the Protocols, at least in their present 

form, are a vicious and insidious forgery. Nevertheless, they are 

still being circulated in Latin America, in Spain, even in Britain as 

anti-Semitic propaganda .35 


The Protocols propound in outline a blueprint for nothing less than 

total world domination. On first reading they would seem to be the 

Machiavellian programme a kind of inter-office memo, so to speak for a 

group of individuals determined to impose a new world order, with 

themselves as supreme despots. The text advocates a many-tentacled 

hydra-headed conspiracy dedicated to disorder and anarchy, to toppling 

certain existing regimes, infiltrating Freemasonry and other such 

organisations, and eventually seizing absolute control of the Western 

world's social, political and economic institutions. And the anonymous 

authors of the Protocols declare explicitly that they 'stage-managed' 

whole peoples 'according to a political plan which no one has so much 

as guessed at in the course of many centuries 1 .36 

To a modern reader the Protocols might seem to have been devised by 

some fictitious organisation like SPECTRE -James Bond's adversary in 


Fleming's novels. When they were first publici sed however, the 

Protocols were alleged to have been composed at an International Judaic 

Congress which convened in Basle in 1897. This allegation has long 

since been disproved. The earliest copies of the Protocols, for 

example, are known to have been written in French and the 1897 Congress 

in Basle did not include a single French delegate. Moreover, a copy of 

the Protocols is known to have been in circulation as early as 1884 - a 

full thirteen years before the Basle Congress met. The 1884 copy of 

the Protocols surfaced in the hands of a member of a Masonic lodge the 

same lodge of which Papus was a member and subsequently Grand Master 

.3' Moreover, it was in this same lodge that the tradition of Ormus had 

first appeared the legendary 

Egyptian sage who amalgamated pagan and Christian mysteries and founded 



Modern scholars have established in fact that the Protocols, in their 

published form, are based at least in part on a satirical work written 

and printed in Geneva in 1864. The work was composed as an attack on 


III by a man named Maurice Joly, who was subsequently imprisoned. Joly is said to have 

been a member of a Rose Croix order. Whether this is true or not, he was a friend of 

Victor Hugo; and Hugo, who shared Joly's antipathy to Napoleon III, was a member of a 

Rose-Croix order. 


It can thus be proved conclusively that the Protocols did not issue 

from the Judaic Congress at Basle in 1897. That being so, the obvious 

question is whence they did issue. Modern scholars have dismissed them 

as a total forgery, a wholly spurious document concocted by 

anti-Semitic interests intent on discrediting Judaism. And yet the 

Protocols themselves argue strongly against such a conclusion. They 

contain, for example, a number of enigmatic references -references that 

are clearly not 

Judaic. But these references are so clearly not Judaic that they cannot plausibly have 

been fabricated by a forger either. No anti-Semitic forger with even a modicum of 

intelligence would possibly have concocted such references in order to discredit Judaism. 

For no one would have believed these references to be of Judaic origin. 

Thus, for instance, the text of the Protocols ends with a single statement, "Signed by the 

representatives of Sion of the 33 rd Degree. 


Why would an anti-Semitic forger have made up such a statement? Why 

would he not have attempted to incriminate all Jews, rather than just a 

few the few who constitute 'the representatives of Sion of the 33 

Degree'? Why would he not declare that the document was signed by, 

say, the representatives of the International Judaic Congress? In 

fact, the 'representatives of Sion of the 33 rd Degree' would hardly 

seem to refer to 

Judaism at all, or to any 'international Jewish conspiracy'. If anything, it would seem to 

refer to something specifically Masonic. 

And the 33 rd 

Degree in Freemasonry is that of the so-called "Strict Observance' the system of 

Freemasonry introduced by Hund at the behest of his 'unknown superiors', one of whom 

appears to have been Charles Radclyffe. 

The Protocols contain other even more flagrant anomalies. The text speaks repeatedly, 

for example, of the advent of a "Masonic Kingdom', and of a "King of the blood of Sion', 

who will preside over this "Masonic Kingdom'. 

It asserts that the future king will be of 'the dynastic roots of 


David'. It affirms that 'the King of the Jews will be the real Pope' 

and 'the patriarch of an international church'. And it concludes in a 

most cryptic fashion, "Certain members of the seed of David will 

prepare the 

Kings and their heirs .. . Only the King and the three who stood 


sponsor for him will know what is coming. "39 As an expression of 

Judaic thought, real or fabricated, such statements are blatantly 

absurd. Since Biblical times no king has figured in Judaic tradition, 

and the very principle of kingship has become utterly irrelevant. The 

concept of a king would have been as meaningless to Jews of 1897 as it 

would be to Jews today; and no forger can have been ignorant of this 

fact. Indeed the references quoted would appear to be more Christian 

than Judaic. For the last two millennia the only "King of the Jews' 

has been Jesus himself and Jesus, according to the Gospels, was of the 

"dynastic roots of David'. If one is fabricating a document and 

ascribing it to a Jewish conspiracy, why include such patently 

Christian echoes? Why speak of so specifically and uniquely Christian 

a concept as a pope? Why speak of an "international church' rather 

than an international synagogue or an international temple? And why 

include the enigmatic allusion to 'the 

King and the three who stood sponsor' which is less suggestive of 

Judaism and Christianity than it is of the secret societies of Johann 


Andrea and Charles Nodier? If the Protocols issued wholly from a propagandist's 

antiSemitic imagination, it is difficult to imagine a propagandist so inept, or so ignorant and 


On the basis of prolonged and systematic research, we reached certain 

conclusions about the Protocols of the Elders of Sion. They are as 

follows. 1) There was an original text on which the published version 

of the 

Protocols was based. This original text was not a forgery. On the 

contrary it was authentic. But it had nothing whatever to do with 

Judaism or an 'international Jewish conspiracy'. It issued rather from 

some Masonic organisation or Masonically oriented secret society which 

incorporated the word "Sion'. 2) The original text on which the 

published version of the Protocols was based need not have been 

provocative or inflammatory in its language. But it may well have 

included a programme for gaining power, for infiltrating 

Freemasonry, for controlling social, political and economic institutions. 

Such a programme would have been perfectly in keeping with the secret 

societies of the Renaissance, as well as with the Compagnie du 

Saint-Sacrement and the institutions of Andrea and Nodier. 3) The 


original text on which the published version of the Protocols was 

based fell into the hands of Sergei Nilus. Nilus did not at first 

intend it to discredit Judaism. On the contrary, he brought it to the 

czar with the intention of discrediting the esoteric enclave at the 

imperial court -the enclave of Papus, Monsieur Philippe and others who 

were members of the secret society in question. Before doing so, he 

almost certainly doctored the language, rendering it far more venomous 

and inflammatory than it initially was. When the czar spurned him, 

Nilus then released the Protocols in their doctored form for 

publication. They had failed in their primary objective of 

compromising Papus and Monsieur 

Philippe. But they might still serve a secondary purpose that of 

fostering anti-Semitism. Although Nilus's chief targets had been Papus 

and Monsieur 

Philippe, he was hostile to Judaism as well. 4) The published version of the Protocols is 

not, therefore, a totally fabricated text. It is rather a radically altered text. But despite the 

alterations certain vestiges of the original version can be discerned as in a palimpsest, or 

as in passages of the Bible. These. vestiges which referred to a king, a pope, an 

international church, and to Sion probably meant little or nothing to Nilus. He certainly 

would not have invented them himself. But if they were already there, he would have had 

no reason, given his ignorance, to excise them. And while such vestiges might have been 

irrelevant to Judaism, they might have been extremely relevant to a secret society. As we 

learned subsequently, they were and still are of paramount importance to the Prieure de 


The Hieron du Val d'Or 

While we pursued our independent research, new "Prieure documents' had 

continued to appear. Some of them privately printed works, like the 

Dossiers secrets, and intended for limited circulation were made 

available to us through the offices of friends in France or through the 


Nationale. Others appeared in book form, newly published and released on the market for 

the first time. 


In some of these works there was additional information on the late 

nineteenth century, and specifically on Berenger Sauniere. 

According to one such "up-dated' account, Sauniere did not discover the fateful 

parchments in his church by accident. On the contrary he is said to have been directed to 

them by emissaries of the Prieure de Sion who visited him at Rennes-leChateau and 

enlisted him as their factotum. In late 1916 Sauniere is reported to have defied the 

emissaries of Sion and quarrelled with them." If this is true, the cure's death in January 

1917 acquires a more sinister quality than is generally ascribed to it. Ten days before his 

death he had been in satisfactory health. Nevertheless ten days before his death a coffin 

was ordered on his behalf. The receipt for the coffin, dated January 12 th , 1917, is made 

out to Sauniere's confidante and housekeeper, Marie Denarnaud. 

A more recent and, if anything, more apparently authoritative "Prieure' 

publication elaborates further on Sauniere's story and would seem to 

confirm, at least in part, the account summarised above. According to 

this publication, Sauniere himself was little more than a pawn and his 

role in the mystery of Rennes-leChateau has been much exaggerated. The 

real force behind the events at the mountain village is said to have 

been Sauniere's friend, the Abbe Henri Boudet, cure of the adjacent 

village of 


Boudet is said to have provided Sauniere with all his money a total of thirteen million 

francs between 1887 and 1915. And Boudet is said to have guided Sauniere on his 

various projects the public works, the construction of the Villa Bethania and the Tour 

Magdala. He is also said to have supervised the restoration of the church at 

RennesleChateau, and to have designed Sauniere's perplexing Stations of the Cross as a 

kind of illustrated version, or visual equivalent, of a cryptic book of his own. 

According to this recent "Prieure' publication, Sauniere remained 

essentially ignorant of the real secret for which he acted as custodian 

until Boudet, in the throes of approaching death, confided it to him 


March 1915. According to the same publication, Marie Denarnaud, Sauniere's 

housekeeper, was in fact Boudet's agent. It was through her that Boudet supposedly 

transmitted instructions to Sauniere. And it was to her that all money was made payable. 

Or, rather, most money. 


For Boudet, between 1885 and 1901, is said to have paid 7,655,250 

francs to the bishop of Carcassonne the man who, at his own expense, 

dispatched Sauniere to 

Paris with the parchments. The bishop, too, would seem then to have been essentially in 

Boudet's employ. It is certainly an incongruous situation an important regional bishop 

being the paid servit or of a humble, backwater parish priest. And the parish priest 

himself? For. whom was Boudet working? 

What interests did he represent? What can have given him the power to enlist the 

services, and the silence, of his ecclesiastical superior? And who can have furnished him 

with such vast financial resources to be dispensed so prodigally? These questions are not 

answered explicitly. But the answer is constantly implicit the Prieure de Sion. 

Further light on the matter was shed by another recent work which, like its predecessors, 

seemed to draw on 'privileged sources' of information. 

The work in question is Le Tresor du triangle d'or ("The Treasure of 


Golden Triangle') by jean-Luc Chaumeil, published in 1 979. According 

to M. Chaumeil, a number of clerics involved in the enigma of 

Rennes-leChateau - Sauniere, Boudet, quite probably others like Hoffet, 

Hoffet's uncle at 

Saint Sulpice and the bishop of Carcassonne were affiliated with a form of "Scottish Rite' 

Freemasonry. This Freemasonry, M. Chaumeil declares, differed from most other forms 

in that it was "Christian, Hermetic and aristocratic'. In short, it did not, like many rites of 

Freemasonry, consist primarily of free-thinkers and atheists. On the contrary, it seems to 

have been deeply religious and magically oriented emphasising a sacred social and 

political hierarchy, a divine order, an underlying cosmic plan. 

And the upper grades or degrees of this Freemasonry, according to M. 

Chaumeil, were the lower grades or degrees of the Prieure de Sion." 

In our own researches we had already encountered a Freemasonary of the 

sort M. Chaumeil describes. Indeed M. Chaumeil's description could 

readily be applied to the original "Scottish Rite' introduced by 

Charles Radclyffe and his associates. Both Radclyffe's Masonry and the 

Masonry M. Chaumeil describes would have been acceptable, despite papal 

condemnation, to devout 


Catholics whether eighteenth-century Jacobites or nineteenth-century 

French priests. In both cases Rome certainly disapproved and quite vehemently. 

Nevertheless the individuals involved seem not only to have persisted in regarding 

themselves as Christians and Catholics. They also seem, on the basis of available 

evidence, to have received a major and exhilarating transfusion of faith a transfusion that 

enabled them to see themselves as, if anything, more truly Christian than the papacy. 

Although M. Chaumeil is both vague and evasive, he strongly implies that in the years 

prior to 1914 the Freemasonry of which Boudet and Sauniere were members became 

amalgamated with another esoteric institution -an institution that might well explain some 

of the curious references to a monarch in the Protocols of the Elders of Sion, especially if, 

as M. Chaumeil further intimates, the real power behind this other institution was also the 

Prieure de Sion. 

The institution in question was called the Hieron du Val d'Or which 

would seem to be a verbal transposition of that recurring site, 

Orva1.4' The 

Hieron du Val d'Or was a species of secret political society founded, it would appear, 

around 1 873. It seems to have shared much with other esoteric organisations of the 

period. There was, for example, a characteristic emphasis on sacred geometry and 

various sacred sites. There was an insistence on a mystical or Gnostic truth underlying 

mythological motifs. 

There was a preoccupation with the origins of men, races, languages and 

symbols, such as occurs in Theosophy. And like many other sects and 

societies of the time, the Hieron du Val d'Or was simultaneously 

Christian and trans Christian It stressed the importance of the Sacred 

Heart, for instance, yet linked the Sacred Heart with other, 

pre-Christian symbols. It sought to reconcile as the legendary Ormus 

was said to have reconciled Christian and pagan mysteries. And it 

ascribed special significance to 

Druidic thought which, like many modern experts, it regarded as 


Pythagorean. All of these themes are adumbrated in the published work 


Sauniere's friend, the Abbe Henri Boudet. 

For the purposes of our inquiry, the Hieron du Val d'Or proved relevant 

by virtue of its formulation of what M. Chaumeil calls an "esoteric 


geopolitics' and an "ethnarchical world order'. Translated into more 

mundane terms this entailed, in effect, the establishment of a new Holy 

Roman Empire in nineteenth-century Europe -a revitalised and 

reconstituted Holy Roman 

Empire, a secular state that unified all peoples and rested ultimately on spiritual, rather 

than social, political or economic foundations. Unlike its predecessor, this new Holy 

Roman Empire would have been genuinely "holy' genuinely "Roman' and genuinely 

"imperial' although the specific meaning of these terms would have differed crucially from 

the meaning accepted by tradition and convention. Such a state would have realised the 

centuries-old dream of a "heavenly kingdom' on earth, a terrestrial replica or mirror-image 

of the order, harmony and hierarchy of the cosmos. It would have actualised the ancient 

Hermetic premise, "As above, so below'. And it was not altogether Utopian or naive. On 

the contrary, it was at least remotely feasible in the context of late nineteenth-century 


According to M. Chaumeil, the objectives of the Hieron du Val d'Or were: 

a theocracy wherein nations would be no more than provinces, their leaders but 

proconsuls in the service of a world occult government consisting of an elite. For Europe, 

this regime of the Great King implied a double hegemony of the Papacy and the Empire, 

of the Vatican and of the Habsburgs, who would have been the Vatican's right arm." 

By the nineteenth century, of course, the Habsburgs were synonymous 

with the house of Lorraine. The concept of a "Great King' would thus 

have constituted a fulfilment of Nostradamus's prophecies. And it 

would also have actualised, at least in some sense, the monarchist 

blueprint outlined in the Protocols of the Elders of Sion. At the same 

time the realisation of so grandiose a design would clearly have 

entailed a number of changes in existing institutions. The Vatican, 

for example, would presumably have been a very different Vatican from 

the one then situated in Rome. And the Habsburgs would have been more 

than imperial heads of state. They would have become, in effect, a 

dynasty of priest-kings, like the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Or like 


the Messiah anticipated by the Jews at the dawn of the Christian era.M. Chaumeil does 

not clarify the extent, if any, to which the Habsburgs themselves were actively involved in 

these ambitious clandestine designs. 

There is a quantity of evidence, however including the visit of a 

Habsburg archduke to Rennes-leChateau which seemingly attests to at 

least some implication. But whatever plans were afoot, they would have 

been thwarted by the First World War, which, among other things, 

toppled the 

Habsburgs from power. 

As M. Chaumeil explained them, the objectives of the Hieron du Val d'Or or of the Prieure 

de Sion made a certain logical sense in the context of what we had discovered. They 

shed new light on the Protocols of the Elders of Sion. They concurred with the stated 

objectives of various secret societies, including those of Charles Radclyffe and Charles 

Nodier. Most important of all, they conformed to the political aspirations which, through 

the centuries, we had traced in the house of Lorraine. 

But if the Hieron du Val d'Or's objectives made logical sense, they did 

not make practical political sense. On what basis, we wondered, would 


Habsburgs have asserted their right to function as a dynasty of priest-kings? Unless it 

commanded overwhelming popular support, such a right could not possibly have been 

asserted against the republican government of France not to mention the imperial 

dynasties then presiding over Russia, Germany and Britain. And how could the necessary 

popular support have been obtained? 

In the context of nineteenth-century political realities such a scheme, while logically 

consistent, seemed to us effectively absurd. Perhaps, we concluded, we had 

misconstrued the Hieron du Val d'Or. Or perhaps the members of the Hieron du Val d'Or 

were quite simply potty. 

Until we obtained further information, we had no choice but to shelve 

the matter. In the meantime, we turned our attention to the present to 

determine whether the Prieure de Sion existed today. As we quickly 

discovered, it did. Its members were not at all potty, and they were 

pursuing, in the post-war twentieth century, a programme essentially 


similar to that pursued in the nineteenth by the Hieron du Val d'Or. 

8 The Secret Society Today 

The French journal Officiel is a weekly government publication in which all groups, 

societies and organisations in the country must declare themselves. In the Journal Of 

ficiel for the week of July 20 th , 1 956 (Issue Number 1 67), there is the following entry: 

25 juin 1956. Declaration a la sous-prefecture de Saint Julien-en-Genevois. Prieure de 

Sion. But: etudes et entr'aide des membres. Siege social: Sous-Cassan, Annemasse 

(Haute Savoie). 

(June 25 th , 1956. Declaration to the Sub-Prefecture of 

Saint-Julien-en-Genevois. Prieure de Sion. Objectives: studies and mutual aid to 

members. Head office: SousCassan, Annemasse, Haute Savoie.) 

The Prieure de Sion was officially registered with the police. Here, at any rate, appeared 

to be definitive proof of its existence in our own age even though we found it somewhat 

odd that a supposedly secret society should thus broadcast itself. But perhaps it was not 

so odd after all. There was no listing for the Prieure de Sion in any French telephone 

directory. The address proved too vague to allow us to identify a specific office, house, 

building or even street. And the Sub-Prefecture, when we rang them, were of little help. 

There had been numerous inquiries, they said, with weary, long-suffering resignation. But 

they could provide no further information. As far as they knew, the address was 

untraceable. If nothing else, this gave us pause. 

Among other things, it made us wonder how certain individuals had 

contrived to register a fictitious or nonexistent address with the 

police and then, apparently, escape all subsequent consequences and 

prosecution of the matter. Were the police really as insouciant and 

indifferent as they sounded? Or had Sion somehow enlisted their 


cooperation and discretion? The Sub-Prefecture, at our request, 
provided us with a copy of what purported to be the Prieure de Sion's statutes. This 
document, which consisted of twenty-one articles, was neither controversial nor 
particularly illuminating. It did not, for example, clarify the Order's objectives. It gave no 
indication of Sion's possible influence, membership or resources. On the whole, it was 
rather bland while at the same time compounding our perplexity. At one point, for 
instance, the statutes declared that admission to the Order was not to be restricted on the 
basis of language, social origin, class or political ideology. At another point, they 
stipulated that all Catholics over the age of twenty-one were eligible for candidature. 
Indeed the statutes in general appeared to have issued from a piously, 
even fervently Catholic institution. And yet Sion's alleged 
Grand Masters and past history, in so far as we had been able to trace 
them, hardly attested to any orthodox Catholicism. For that matter, 
even the modern "Prieure documents', many of them published at the same 
time as the statutes, were less Catholic in orientation than Hermetic, 
even heretically Gnostic. The contradiction seemed to make no sense 

Sion, like the Knights Templar and the Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement, 

demanded Catholicism as an exoteric prerequisite, which might then be 

transcended within the Order. At any rate Siou, like the Temple and 


Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement, apparently demanded an obedience which, in its 

absolute nature, subsumed all other commitments, secular or spiritual. 

According to Article vii of the statutes, "The candidate must renounce his personality in 

order to devote himself to the service of a high moral apostolate'. 

The statutes further declare that Sion functions under the subtitle 


Chevalerie d'lnstitutions et Regies Catholiques, d'Union Independante 


Traditionaliste ("Chivalry of Catholic Rules and Institutions of the Independent and 

Traditionalist Union'). This abbreviates to CIRCUIT," the name of a magazine which, 

according to the statutes, is published internally by the Order and circulated within its 


Perhaps the most interesting information in the statutes is that since 


1956 the Prieure de Sion would seem to have expanded its membership 
almost fivefold. According to a page reproduced in the Dossiers secrets, printed 
sometime before 1956, Sion had a total of 1,093 members ranked in seven grades. The 
structure was traditionally pyramidal. At the top was the Grand Master, or "Nautonnier'. 
There were three in the grade below him ("Prince Noachite de Notre Dame'), nine in the 
grade below that ("Croise de Saint-Jean'). Each grade from here downwards was three 
times as large as the grade before it 27, 81 , 243, 729. The three highest grades the 
Grand Master and his twelve immediate subordinates were said to constitute the thirteen 
"Rose-Croix'. The number would also, of course, correspond to anything from a satanic 
coven to Jesus and his twelve disciples. 

According to the post-1956 statutes, Sion had a total membership of 9,841 , ranked not in 
seven grades but in nine. The structure seems to have remained essentially the same, 
although it was clarified, and two new grades had been introduced at the bottom of the 
hierarchy thus further insulating the leadership behind a larger network of novices. 
The Grand 

Master still retained the title of "Nautonnier'. The three "Princes 

Noachites de Notre Dame' were simply called "Seneschals'. The nine "Croises de Saint- 
Jean' were called "Constables'. The organisation of the Order, in the portentously 
enigmatic jargon of the statutes, was as follows: 

The general assembly is composed of all members of the association. It consists of 729 
provinces, 27 command eries and an Arch designated "Kyria'. 
Each of the command eries as well as the Arch, must consist of forty members, each 
province of thirteen members. 
The members are divided into two effective groups: 

a) The Legion, charged with the apostolate. b) The Phalange, guardian of the Tradition. 
The members compose a hierarchy of nine grades. 
The hierarchy of nine grades consists of: 


a) in the 729 provinces 1) Novices: 6561 members 2) Croises: 2187 

members b) in the 27 command eries 3) Preux: 729 members 4) Ecuyers: 

243 members 5) Chevaliers: 81 members 6) Commandeurs: 27 members c) in the Arch 

"Kyria': 7) Connetables: 9 members 8) Senechaux: 3 members 9) 

Nautonnier: 1 member 2 

Apparently for official bureaucratic and legal purposes, four 

individuals were listed as comprising "The Council'. Three of the 

names were unfamiliar to us and, quite possibly, pseudonyms Pierre 

Bonhomme, born December 7 th , 1934, President; Jean Delaval, born March 

7 th , 1931, Vice-President; Pierre 

Defagot, born December 11 th , 1928, Treasurer. One name, however, we 

had encountered before Pierre Plantard, born March 18 th , 1920, 

Secretary-General. According to the research of another writer, M. 

Plantard's official title was Secretary General of the Department of 

Documentation which implies, of course, that there are other departments as well. 

Alain Poher 

By the early 1970s the Prieure de Sion had become a modest cause 

celebre among certain people in France. There were a number of 

magazine articles and some newspaper coverage. On February 13 th , 1973, 

the Midi Libre published a lengthy feature on Sion, Sauniere and the 

mystery of Rennes-leChateau. This feature specifically linked Sion 

with a possible survival of the Merovingian bloodline into the 

twentieth century. It also suggested that the Merovingian descendants 

included a 'true pretender to the throne of France', whom it identified 

as M. Alain Poher. 3 

While not especially well known in Britain or the United States Alain 

Poher was (and still is) a household name in France. During the Second 


World War he won the Resistance Medal and the Croix de Guerre. 

Following the resignation of de 

Gaulle, he was Provisional President of France from April 28 th to June 

1 9 th , 1 969. He occupied the same position on the death of Georges 

Pompidou, from 

April 2 nd to May 27 th . 1974. In 1973, when the feature in the Midi Libre appeared, M. 

Poher was President of the French Senate. 

As far as we know, M. Poher never commented, one way or the other, on his alleged 

connections with the Prieure de Sion and/or the Merovingian bloodline. In the 

genealogies of the "Prieure documents', however, there is mention of Arnaud, Count of 

Poher, who, sometime between 894 and 896, intermarried with the Plantard family the 

direct, descendants supposedly of Dagobert II. Arnaud de Poher's grandson, Alain, 

became duke of Brittany in 937. Whether or not M. Poher acknowledges Sion, it would 

thus seem clear that Sion acknowledges him as being, at the very least, of Merovingian 


The Lost King 

In the meantime, while we pursued our research and the French media 

accorded periodic flurries of attention to the whole affair, new 

"Prieure documents' continued to appear. As before, some appeared in 

book form, others as privately printed pamphlets or articles deposited 

in the Bibliotheque 

Nationale. If anything, they only compounded the mystification. 

Someone was obviously producing this material, but their real objective 

remained unclear. At times we nearly dismissed the whole affair as an 

elaborate joke, a hoax of extravagant proportions. If this were true, 

however, it was a hoax that certain people seemed to have been 

sustaining for centuries and if one invests so much time, energy and 

resources in a hoax, can it really be called a hoax at all? In fact 

the interlocking skeins and the overall fabric of the "Prieure 

documents' were less a joke than a work of art a display of ingenuity, 

suspense, brilliance, intricacy, historical knowledge and architectonic 

complexity worthy of, say, James Joyce. And while Finnegans 

Wake may be regarded as a joke of sorts, there is no question that its 


creator took it very seriously indeed. It is important to note that 
the "Prieure documents' did not constitute a conventional 'bandwagon' - 
a lucrative fashion which burgeoned into a profitable industry, 
spawning sequels, 'prequels' and assorted other derivatives. They 
could not be compared, for example, to von Daniken's 
Chariots of the Gods, the sundry accounts of the Bermuda Triangle or 
the works of Carlos Castaneda. Whatever the motivation behind the 
"Prieure documents', it was clearly not financial gain. Indeed, money 
seemed to be only an incidental factor, if a factor at all. Although 
they would have proved extremely lucrative in book form, the most 
important "Prieure documents' were not published as such. Despite 
their commercial potential, they were confined to private printings, 
limited editions and discreet deposition at the Bibliotheque Nationale 

-where, for that matter, they were not even always available. And the 
information that did appear in conventional book form was not haphazard or 
arbitrary and for the most part it was not the work of independent researchers. 
Most of it seemed to issue from a single source. Most of it was based on the 
testimony of very specific informants, who measured out precise quantities of 
new information as if with an eyedropper and according to some prearranged plan. 
Each new fragment of information added at least one modification, one further 
piece to the overall jigsaw. Many of these fragments were released under 
different names. A superficial impression was thus conveyed of an array of 

separate writers, each of whom confirmed and imparted credibility to the Others. 

There appeared to us only one plausible motivation for such a procedure 
to attract public attention to certain matters, to establish 
credibility, to engender interest, to create a psychological climate or 
atmosphere that kept people waiting ~with hated breath for new 
revelations. In short, the "Prieure documents' seemed specifically 
calculated to 'pave the way' for some astonishing disclosure. Whatever 
this disclosure might eventually prove to be, it apparently dictated a 
prolonged process of 'softening up' of preparing people. And whatever 
this disclosure might eventually prove to be, it somehow involved the 
Merovingian dynasty, the perpetuation of that dynasty's bloodline to 


the present day and a clandestine kingship. Thus, in a magazine 

article purportedly written by a member of the Prieure de Sion, we 

found the following statement, "Without the Merovingians, the Prieure 

de Sion would not exist, and without the 

Prieure de Sion, the Merovingian dynasty would be extinct." The relationship between the 

Order and the bloodline is partly clarified, partly further confused, by the following 


The King is, shepherd and pastor at the same time. Sometimes he 

dispatches some brilliant ambassador to his vassal in power, his 

factotum, one who has the felicity of being subject to death. Thus 

Rene d'Anjou, Connetable de 

Bourbon, Nicolas Fouquet ... and numerous others for whom astonishing 

success is followed by inexplicable disgrace for these emissaries are 

both terrible and vulnerable. Custodians of a secret, one can only 

exalt them or destroy them. Thus people like Gilles de Rais, Leonardo 

da Vinci, Joseph 

Balsamo, the dukes of Nevers and Gonzaga, whose wake is attended by a perfume of 

magic in which sulphur is mingled with incense the perfume of the Magdalene. 

If King Charles VII, on the entrance of Jeanne d'Arc into the great hall of his castle at 

Chinon, hid himself among the throng of his courtiers, it was not for the sake of a frivolous 

joke where was the humour in it? but because he already knew of whom she was the 

ambassadress. And that, before her, he was scarcely more than one courtier among the 

others. The secret she delivered to him in private was contained in these words: 

"Gentle lord, I come on behalf of the King. '4 

The implications of this passage are provocative and intriguing. One is that the King the 

"Lost King', presumably of the Merovingian bloodline continues in effect to rule, simply by 

virtue of who he is. Another, and perhaps even more startling, implication is that temporal 

sovereigns are aware of his existence, acknowledge him, respect him and fear him. A 

third implication is that the Grand Master of the Prieure de Sion, or some other member of 

the Order, acts as ambassador between the "Lost King' and his temporal deputies or 



And such ambassadors, it would seem, are deemed expendable. 

Curious Pamphlets in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris 

In 1966 a curious exchange of letters occurred concerning the death of 


Schidlof the man who, under the pseudonym of Henri Lobineau, was at 

that time alleged to have composed the genealogies in some of the 

"Prieure documents'. The first letter, which appeared in the Catholic 

Weekly of 

Geneva, is dated October 22 nd , 1966. It is signed by one Lionel Burrus, who claims to 

speak on behalf of an organisation called Swiss Christian Youth. 

M. Burrus announces that Leo Schidlof, alias Henri Lobineau, died in 

Vienna the week before, on October 17 th . He then defends the deceased 

against a slanderous attack which, he claims, appeared in a recent 

Roman Catholic bulletin. M. Burrus registers his indignation at this 

attack. In his eulogy on Schidlof he declares that the latter, under 

the name of Lobineau, compiled, in 1956, 'a remarkable study.. . on 

the genealogy of the 

Merovingian kings and the affair of Rennes-leChateau'. 

Rome, M. Burrus asserts, did not dare asperse Schidlof when he was alive, even though it 

had a comprehensive dossier on the man and his activities. 

But even now, despite his death, Merovingian interests continue to be 

furthered. To support this contention, M. Burrus seems to wax more 

than a little preposterous. He cites what, in 1966, was the emblem of 

Antar, one of France's leading petrol companies. This emblem is said 

to embody a 

Merovingian device and depict, albeit in cartoon fashion, a Merovingian 

king. And this emblem, according to M. Burrus, proves that information 

and propaganda on behalf of the Merovingians is being effectively 

disseminated; and even the French clergy, he adds with imperfect 

relevance, do not always jump at the behest of the Vatican. As for Leo 

Schidlof, M. Burrus concludes (with echoes of Freemasonry and Cathar 

thought), "For all those who knew 

Henri Lobineau, who was a great voyager and a great seeker, a loyal and 

good man, he remains in our hearts as the symbol of a "maitre parfait", 


whom one respects and venerates. "S This letter from Lionel Burrus 

would seem distinctly cranky. Certainly it is extremely curious. More 

curious still, however, is the alleged attack on 

Schidlof in a Roman Catholic bulletin, from which M. Burrus quotes liberally. The bulletin, 

according to M. Burrus, accuses Schidlof of being "pro-Soviet, a notorious Freemason 

actively preparing the way for a popular monarchy in France'. 6 It is a singular and 

seemingly contradictory accusation for one does not usually combine Soviet sympathies 

with an attempt to establish a monarchy. And yet the bulletin, as M. Burrus claims to 

quote it, makes charges that are even more extravagant: 

The Merovingian descendants have always been behind all heresies, 


Arianism, through the Cathars and the Templars, to Freemasonry. At the beginning of the 

Protestant Reformation, Cardinal Mazarin, in July 1659, had their chateau of Barberie, 

dating from the twelfth century, destroyed. For the house and family in question, all 

through the centuries, had spawned nothing but secret agitators against the Church." 

M. Burrus does not specifically identify the Roman Catholic bulletin in 

which this quotation supposedly appeared, so we could not verify its 

authenticity. If it is authentic, however, it would be of considerable 

significance. It would constitute independent testimony, from Roman 

Catholic sources, of the razing of Chateau Barberie in Nevers. It 

would also seem to suggest at least a partial raison d'etre for the 

Prieure de 

Sion. We had already come to see Sion, and the families associated with it, as 

manoeuvring for power on their own behalf and in the process repeatedly clashing with 

the Church. According to the above quotation, however, opposition to the Church would 

not seem to have been a matter of chance, circumstances or even politics. On the 

contrary it would seem to have been a matter of on-going policy. This confronted us with 

another contradiction. For the statutes of the Prieure de Sion had issued, at least 

ostensibly, from a staunchly Catholic institution. 

Not long after the publication of this letter, Lionel Burrus was killed 

in a car accident which claimed six other victims as well. Shortly 


before his death, however, his letter elicited a response even more 
curious and provocative than that which he himself had written. This 
response was published as a privately printed pamphlet under the name 
of S. Roux.e 

In certain respects S. Roux's text would appear to echo the original attack on Schidlof 
which prompted M. Burrus's letter. It also chastises M. Burrus for being young, over- 
zealous, irresponsible and prone to talk too much. 
But while seeming to condemn M. Burrus's position, not only does S. 
Roux's pamphlet confirm his facts, but it actually elaborates on them. 

Schidlof, S. Roux affirms, was a dignitary of the Swiss Grande Loge Alpina the Masonic 
lodge whose imprint appeared on certain of the "Prieure documents'. According to S. 
Roux, Schidlof 'did not conceal his sentiments of friendship for the Eastern Bloc'." As for 

Burrus's statements about the Church, S. Roux continues: 
one cannot say that the Church is ignorant of the line of the Razes, 
but it must be remembered that all its descendants, since Dagobert, 
have been secret agitators against both the royal line of France and 
against the 

Church and that they have been the source of all heresies. The return of a Merovingian 
descendant to power would entail for France the proclamation of a popular monarchy 
allied to the USSR, and the triumph of Freemasonry in short, the disappearance of 
religious freedom." 

If all of this sounds rather extraordinary, the concluding statements of S. Roux's pamphlet 
are even more so: 

As for the question of Merovingian propaganda in France, everyone knows 
that the publicity of Antar Petrol, with a Merovingian king holding a 
Lily and a Circle, is a popular appeal in favour of returning the 
Merovingians to power. And one cannot but wonder what Lobineau was 
preparing at the time of his decease in Vienna, on the eve of profound 
changes in Germany. Is it not also true that Lobineau prepared in 
Austria a future reciprocal accord with 

France? Was not this the basis of the Franco-Russian accord?" 

Not surprisingly we were utterly bewildered, wondering what the devil S. Roux was talking 
about; if anything, he appeared to have outdone M. 


Burrus in nonsense. Like the bulletin M. Burrus had attacked, S. Roux 

links together political objectives as apparently diverse and 

discordant as Soviet hegemony and popular monarchy. He goes further 

than M. Burrus by declaring that "everyone knows' the emblem of a 

petrol company to be a subtle form of propaganda for an unknown and 

apparently ludicrous cause. He hints at sweeping changes in 

France, Germany and Austria as if these changes were already 'on the cards', if not 

indeed faits accomplis. And he speaks of a mysterious "Franco-Russian' accord as if this 

accord were a matter of public knowledge. 

On first reading S. Roux's pamphlet appeared to make no sense whatever. A closer 

scrutiny convinced us that it was, in fact, another ingenious "Prieure document'deliberately 

calculated to mystify, to confuse, to tease, to sow hints of something portentous and 

monumental. In any case it offered, in its wildly eccentric way, an intimation of the 

magnitude of the issues involved. If S. Roux was correct the subject of our inquiry was 

not confined to the activities of some elusive but innocuous latter-day chivalric order. If S. 

Roux was correct the subject of our inquiry pertained in some way to the upper echelons 

of high-level international politics. 

The Catholic Traditionalists 

In 1977 a new and particularly significant "Prieure document' appeared a six-page 

pamphlet entitled Le Cercle d'Ulysse written by one jean Delaude. 

In the course of his text the writer addresses himself explicitly to 


Prieure de Sion. And although he rehashes much older material, he also furnishes certain 

new details about the Order: 

In March 1 177 Baudouin was compelled, at Saint Leonard d'Acre, to 

negotiate and prepare the constitution of the Order of the Temple, 

under the directives of the Prieure de Sion. In 1 1 1 8 the Order of the 

Temple was then established by Hugues de Payen. From 1 1 1 8 to 1 1 88 the 

Prieure de Sion and the Order of the Temple shared the same Grand 

Masters. Since the separation of the two institutions in 1 188, the 


Prieure de Sion had counted twenty-seven Grand Masters to the present 

day. The most recent were: 

Charles Nodierfrom 1801 to 1844 

Victor Hugo from 1844 to 1885 

Claude Debussyfrom 1885 to 1918 

Jean Cocteau from 1918 to 1963 

and from 1963 until the advent of the new order, the Abbe Ducaud-Bourget. 

For what is the Pieure de Sion preparing? I do not know, but it 

represents a power capable of confronting the Vatican in the days to 

come. Monsignor 

Lefebvre is a most active and redoubtable member, capable of saying: 

"You make me Pope and I will make you King, "z 

There are two important new fragments of information in this extract. 

One is the alleged affiliation with the Prieure de Sion of Archbishop 


Lefebvre. Monsignor Lefebvre, of course, represents the extreme conservative wing of 

the Roman Catholic Church. He was vociferously outspoken against Pope Paul VI, whom 

he flagrantly and flamboyantly defied. 

In 1976 and 1977, in fact, he was explicitly threatened with excommunication; and his 

brazen indifference to this threat nearly precipitated a full-scale ecclesiastical schism. But 

how could we reconcile a militant 'hard-line' Catholic like Monsignor Lefebvre with a 

movement and an Order that was Hermetic, if not downright heretical, in orientation? 

There seemed to be no explanation for this contradiction: unless 


Lefebvre was a modern-day representative of the nineteenth-century 

Freemasonry associated with the Hieron du Val d'Or the "Christian, aristocratic and 

Hermetic Freemasonry' which presumed to regard itself as more Catholic than the pope. 

The second major point in the extract quoted above is, of course, the 

identification of the Prieure de Sion's Grand Master at that time as 


Ducaud-Bourget. Francois Ducaud-Bourget was born in 1897 and trained for the 

priesthood at predictably enough the Seminary of Saint Sulpice. 

He is thus likely to have known many of the Modernists there at the 

time and, quite possibly, Emile Hoffet. Subsequently he was Conventual 

Chaplain of the Sovereign Order of Malta. For his activities during 


the Second World War he received the Resistance Medal and the Croix de 


Today he is recognised as a distinguished man of letters a member of 


Academie Francaise, a biographer of important French Catholic writers 


Paul Claudel and Francois Mauriac, and a highly esteemed poet in his own right. 

Like Monsignor Lefebvre the Abbe Ducaud-Bourget assumed a stance of militant 

opposition to Pope Paul V1 . Like Monsignor Lefebvre he is an adherent of the Tridentine 

Mass. Like Monsignor Lefebvre he has proclaimed himself a "traditionalist', adamantly 

opposed to ecclesiastical reform or any attempt to "modernise' Roman Catholicism. 

On May 22 nd , 1976 he was forbidden to administer confession or 

absolution and, like Monsignor 

Lefebvre, he boldly defied the interdict imposed on him by his superiors. 

On February 27 th , 1977 he led a thousand Catholic traditionalists in their occupation of the 

Church of Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet in Paris. 

If Marcel Lefebvre and Francois Ducaud-Bourget appear to be 

'right-wing' theologically, they would seem to be equally so 

politically. Before the 

Second World War, Monsignor Lefebvre was associated with Action Franqaise the 

extreme right of French politics at the time, which shared certain attitudes in common with 

National Socialism in Germany. More recently the "rebel archbishop' attracted 

considerable notoriety by warmly endorsing the military regime in Argentina. When 

questioned on this position, he replied that he had made a mistake. He had not meant 

Argentina, he said, but Chile! 

Francois Ducaud-Bourget would not appear to be quite so extreme; and 

his medals, at any rate, attest to patriotic anti-German activity 

during the war. Nevertheless he has expressed a high regard for 

Mussolini, and the hope that France would "recover its sense of values 

under the guidance of a new Napoleon' ."3 

Our first suspicion was that Marcel Lefebvre and Frani~ois 

Ducaud-Bourget were not, in fact, affiliated with the Prieure de Sion 

at all, but that someone had deliberately attempted to embarrass them 

by aligning them with the very forces they would, in theory, most 

vigorously oppose. And yet according to the statutes we had obtained 


from the French police, the subtitle of the Prieure de Sion was 

Chevalerie d'lnstitutions et Regies Catholiques; d'Union 

Independante et Traditionaliste. An institution with such a name might very well 

accommodate individuals like Marcel Lefebvre and Franpois Ducaud Bourget. 

There seemed to us a second possible explanation a far-fetched 

explanation admittedly, but one that would at least account for the 

contradiction confronting us. Perhaps Marcel Lefebvre and Franqois 

Ducaud-Bourget were not what they appeared to be. Perhaps they were something else. 

Perhaps, in actuality, they were agents provocateurs whose objective was systematically 

to create turmoil, sow dissent, foment an incipient schism that threatened Pope Paul's 

pontificate. Such tactics would be in keeping with the secret societies described by 

Charles Nodier, as well as with the Protocols of the Elders of Sion. And a number of 

recent commentators -journalists as well as ecclesiastical authorities have declared 

Archbishop Lefebvre to be working for, or manipulated by, someone else." 

Far-fetched though our hypothesis might be, there was a coherent logic underlying it. If 

Pope Paul were regarded as 'the enemy', and one wished to force him into a more liberal 

position, how would one go about it? Not by agitating from a liberal point of view. That 

would only have entrenched the pope more firmly in his conservatism. But what if one 

publicly adopted a position even more rabidly conservative than Paul's? Would this not, 

despite his wishes to the contrary, force him into an increasingly liberal position? And 

that, certainly is what Archbishop Lefebvre and his colleagues accomplished the 

unprecedented feat of casting the pope as a liberal. 

Whether our conclusions were valid or not, it seemed clear that 


Lefebvre, like so many other individuals in our investigation, was privy to some 

momentous and explosive secret. In 1976, for example, his excommunication seemed 

imminent. The press, indeed, was expecting it any day, for Pope Paul, confronted by 

brazen and repeated defiance, seemed to have no alternative. And yet, at the very last 

minute, the pope backed down. It is still unclear precisely why he did so: but the following 

excerpt from the Guardian, dated August 30 th , 1976, suggests a clue: 


The Archbishop's team of priests in England .. . believe that their 

leader still has a powerful ecclesiastical weapon to use in his dispute 

with the Vatican. No one will give any hint of its nature, but Father 


Morgan, the group's leader .. . describes it as being something 

"earth-shaking'. "5 

What kind of "earth-shaking' matter or 'secret weapon' could thus 

intimidate the Vatican? What kind of Damoclean sword, invisible to the 

world at large, could have been held over the pontiff's head? Whatever 

it was, it certainly seems to have proved effective. It seems, in 

fact, to have rendered the archbishop wholly immune to punitive action 

from Rome. As 

Jean Delaude wrote, Marcel Lefebvre did indeed seem to 'represent a power capable of 

confronting the Vatican' head-on, if necessary. 

But to whom did he or will he allegedly say: "You make me Pope and I will make you 


The Convent of 1981 and Cocteau's Statutes 

More recently, some of the issues surrounding Francois Ducaud-Bourget seem to have 

been clarified. This clarification has resulted from a sudden glare of publicity which the 

Prieure de Sion, during late 1980 and early 1981, has received in France. This publicity 

has made it something of a household name. 

In August 1980 the popular magazine Bonne Soiree a kind of amalgam 

between a British Sunday supplement and the American TV Guide published 

a two-part feature on the mystery of Rennes-leChateau and the Prieure 


Sion. In this feature both Marcel Lefebvre and Francois Ducaud-Bourget 

are explicitly linked with Sion. Both are said to have paid a special 

visit fairly recently to one of Sion's sacred sites, the village of 

Sainte-Colombe in Nevers, where the Plantard domain of Chateau Barberie was situated 

before its destruction by Cardinal Mazarin in 1659. 

By this time we ourselves had established both telephone and postal 

contact with the Abbe DucaudBourget. He proved courteous enough. But 

his answers to most of our questions were vague, if not evasive; and, 


not surprisingly, he disavowed all affiliation with the Prieure de 

Sion. This disavowal was reiterated in a letter which, shortly thereafter, he addressed to 
Bonne Soiree. 

On January 22 nd , 1 981 , a short article appeared in the French press, "s of which it is worth 
quoting the greater part: 

A veritable secret society of 121 dignitaries, the Prieure de Sion, 
founded by Godfroi de Bouillon in Jerusalem in 1099, has numbered among 
its Grand 

Masters Leonardo da Vinci, Victor Hugo and Jean Cocteau. This Order convened its 
Convent at Blois on 1 7 January, 1 981 (the previous Convent dating from 5 June 1 956, in 

As a result of this recent Convent at Blois, Pierre Plantard de 
Saint-Clair was elected Grand Master of the Order by 83 out of 92 votes on the third 

This choice of Grand Master marks a decisive step in the evolution of 

Order's conception and spirit in relation to the world; for the 121 
dignitaries of the Prieure de Sion are all eminences grises of high 
finance and of international political or philosophical societies; 

Pierre Plantard is the direct descendant, through Dagobert II, of the 
Merovingian kings. His descent has been proved legally by the parchments of Queen 
Blanche of Castile, discovered by the Abbe Sauniere in his church at Rennes-leChateau 
(Rude) in 1891. 

These documents were sold by the priest's niece in 1965 to Captain 

Stanmore and Sir Thomas Frazer, and were deposited in a safe-deposit box of Lloyds 
Bank Europe Limited of London." 

Shortly before this item appeared in the press, we had written to Philippe de Cherisey, 
with whom we had already established contact and whose name figured as frequently as 
Pierre Plantard's as a spokesman for the Prieure de Sion. In reply to one of the questions 
we asked him, M. de Cherisey declared that Franpois DucaudBourget had not been 
elected Grand Master by a proper quorum. Moreover, he added, the Abbe Ducaud- 
Bourget had publicly repudiated his affiliation with the Order. 
This latter assertion seemed unclear. It made more sense, however, in 
the context of something M. de 


Cherisey enclosed in his letter. Some time before, we had obtained, 

from the Sub Prefecture of Saint-Julien, the statutes of the Prieure de 

Sion. A copy of these same statutes had been published in 1973 by a 

French magazine." However, we had been told in 

Paris by jean-Luc Chaumeil that these statutes were fraudulent. In his 

letter to us M. de Cherisey enclosed a copy of what were said to be 


Prieure de Sion's true statutes translated from the Latin. These statutes bore the 

signature of jean Cocteau; and unless it had been executed by an extremely skilful forger, 

the signature was authentic. We certainly could not distinguish it from other specimens of 

Cocteau's signature. And on this basis, we are inclined to accept the statutes to which the 

signature is appended as genuine. "9 They are set out below: 

ARTICLE ONE There is formed, between the undersigned to this present constitution and 

those who shall subsequently join and fulfill the following conditions, an initiatory order of 

chivalry, whose usages and customs rest upon the foundation made by Godfroi VI, called 

the Pious, Due de Bouillon, at Jerusalem in 1099 and recognised in 1 100. 

ARTICLE Two The Order is called "Sionis Prioratus' or "Prieure de Sion'. 

ARTICLE THREE The Prieure de Sion has as its objectives the perpetuation of the 

traditionalist order of chivalry, its initiatory teaching and the creation between members of 

mutual assistance, as much moral as material, in all circumstances. 

ARTICLE FOUR The duration of the Prieure de Sion is unlimited. 

ARTICLE FIVE The Prieure de Sion adopts, as its representative office, the domicile of 

the Secretary General named by the Convent. The Prieure de Sion is not a secret 

society. All its decrees, as well as its records and appointments, are available to the 

public in Latin text. 

ARTICLE SIX The Prieure de Sion comprises 121 members. Within these 

limits, it is open to all adult persons who recognise its aims and 


accept the obligations specified in this present constitution. Members are admitted without 

regard to sex, race or philosophical, religious or political ideas. 

ARTICLE SEVEN Nevertheless, in the event that a member should designate in writing 

one of his descendants to succeed him, the Convent shall accede to this request and 

may, if necessary in the case of minority, undertake the education of the above 


ARTICLE EIGHT A future member must provide, for his induction to the first grade, a 

white robe with cord, at his own expense. From the time of his admission to the first 

grade, the member holds the right to vote. On admission, the new member must swear to 

serve the Order in all circumstances, as well as to work for PEACE and the respect of 

human life. 

ARTICLE NINE On his admission, the member must pay a token fee, the amount being 

discretionary. Each year, he must forward to the Secretariat General a voluntary 

contribution to the Order of a sum to be decided by himself. 

ARTICLE TEN On admission, the member must provide a birth certificate and a specimen 

of his signature. 

ARTICLE ELEVEN A member of the Prieure de Sion against whom a sentence has been 

pronounced by a tribunal for a common-law offence may be suspended from his duties 

and titles, as well as his membership. 

ARTICLE TWELVE The general assembly of members is designated the Convent. 

No deliberation of Convent shall be deemed valid if the number of members present is 

less than eighty-one. The vote is secret and is cast by means of white and black balls. To 

be adopted, all motions must receive eighty-one white balls. All motions not receiving 

sixty-one white balls in a vote may not be re-submitted. 

ARTICLE THIRTEEN The Convent of the Prieure de Sion alone decides, on a majority of 

81 votes out of 121 members, all changes to the constitution and the internal regulation of 



ARTICLE FOURTEEN All admissions shall be decided by the "Council of 

the thirteen Rose-Croix'. Titles and duties shall be conferred by the 


Master of the Prieure de Sion. Members are admitted to their office for life. Their titles 

revert by right to one of their children chosen by themselves without consideration of sex. 

The child thus designated may make an act of renunciation of his rights, but he cannot 

make this act in favour of a brother, sister, relative or any other person. He may not be 

readmitted to the Prieure de Sion. 

ARTICLE FIFTEEN Within twenty-seven full days, two members shall be required to 

contact a future member to obtain his assent or his renunciation. In default of a deed of 


acceptance after a period of reflection of eighty-one full days, renunciation shall be legally 



ARTICLE SIXTEEN By virtue of hereditary right confirmed by the preceding articles, the 

duties and titles of Grand Master of the Prieure de Sion shall be transmitted to his 

successor according to the same prerogatives. In the case of a vacancy in the office of 

Grand Master, and the absence of a direct successor, the Convent must proceed to an 

election within eighty one days. 

ARTICLE SEVENTEEN All decrees must be voted by Convent and receive 

validation by the Seal of the Grand Master. The Secretary-General is 

named by Convent for three years, renewable by tacit consent. The 

Secretary-General must be of the grade of Commander to undertake his duties. 

The functions and duties are unpaid. 

ARTICLE EIGHTEEN The hierarchy of the Prieure de Sion is composed of five grades: 

1 st Nautonnier number:1 Arche of the 2 nd Croise number:313 Rose-Croix 

3 rd Commandeur number:9 4 th Chevalier number: 27The nine 5 th Ecuyer 


number:81commanderies total number: 121 of the Temple ARTICLE NINETEEN 

There are 243 Free Brothers, called Preux or, since the year 1681, Enfants de Saint 

Vincent who participate neither in the vote nor in Convents, but to whom the Prieure de 

Sion accordg certain rights and privileges in conformity witht the decree of January 17 th , 


ARTICLE TWENTY The funds of the Prieure de Sion are composed of gifts and fees of 

members. A reserve, called the 'patrimony of the Order', is settled upon the Council of the 

thirteen Rose-Croix. This treasure may only be used in case of absolute necessity and 

grave danger to the Prieure and its members. 

ARTICLE TWENTY-ONE The Convent is convoked by the Secretary-General when the 

Council of the Rose-Croix deems it useful. 

ARTICLE TWENTY-TWO Disavowal of membership in the Prieure de Sion, manifested 

publicly and in writing, without cause or personal danger, shall incur exclusion of the 

member, which shall be pronounced by the Convent. 

Text of the constitution in XXII articles, conforming to the original and to the modifications 

of the Convent of June 5 th , 1 956. 

Signature of the Grand Master 


In certain details, these statutes are at odds both with the statutes we received from the 

French police and with the information relating to Sion in the "Prieure documents'. The 

latter shows a total membership of 1 ,093, the former of 9,841 . According to the articles 

quoted above, Sion's total membership, including the 243 "Children of Saint Vincent', is 

only 364. The "Prieure documents', moreover, establish a hierarchy of seven grades. In 

the statutes we received from the French police, this hierarchy has been expanded to 

nine. According to the articles quoted above, there are only five grades in the hierarchy. 

And the specific appellations of these grades differ from those in the two previous sources 

as well. 


These contradictions might well be evidence of some sort of schism, or 

incipient schism, within the Prieure de Sion, dating from around 1956 

when the "Prieure documents' first began to appear in the 

Bibliotheque Nationale. And indeed, Philippe de Cherisey alludes to 

just such a schism in a recent article. z It occurred between 1956 and 

1958, he says, and threatened to assume the proportions of the rift 

between Sion and the Order of the Temple in 1 188 the rift marked by the 

"cutting of the elm'. According to M. de Cherisey, the schism was 

averted by the diplomatic skill of M. Plantard, who brought the 

potential defectors back into the fold. In any case, and whatever the 

internal politics of the Prieure de 

Sion, the Order, as of the January 1981 Convent, would seem to constitute a unified and 

coherent whole. 

If FranQois Ducaud-Bourgetwas the Prieure de Sion's Grand Master, it would appear 

clear that he is not so at present. M. de Cherisey declared that he had not been elected 

by the requisite quorum. This may mean that he was elected by the incipient schismatics. 

It is uncertain whether he is subject to or in violation of Article Twenty Two of the statutes. 

We may assume that his affiliation with Sion whatever it may have been in the past no 

longer exists. ' 

The statutes quoted might seem to clarify the status of Francois 

Ducaud-Bourget. They make clear, anyway, the principle of selection 

governing the Prieure de Sion's Grand Masters. It is now 

comprehensible why there should have been Grand Masters aged five or 

eight. It is also comprehensible why the Grand Mastership should move, 

as it does, in and out of a particular bloodline and network of 

interlinked genealogies. In principle, the title would seem to be 

hereditary, transmitted down the centuries through an intertwined 

cluster of families all claiming 

Merovingian descent. When there was no eligible claimant, however, or 

when the designated claimant declined the status offered him, the 


Mastership, presumably in accordance with the procedures outlined in 

the statutes, was conferred on a chosen outsider. It would be on this 

basis that individuals like Leonardo, Newton, Nodier and Cocteau found 


their way on to the list. M. Plantard de Saint-Clair 

Among the names that figured most prominently and recurrently in the 


"Prieure documents' was that of the Plantard family. And among the 

numerous individuals associated with the mystery of Sauniere and 

Rennes-leChateau, the most authoritative seemed to be Pierre Plantard 

de Saint-Clair .z' 

According to the genealogies in the "Prieure documents', M. Plantard is a lineal 

descendant of King Dagobert II and the Merovingian dynasty. 

According to the same genealogies, he is also a lineal descendant of 

the owners of 

Chateau Barberie, the property destroyed by Cardinal Mazarin in 1659. 

Throughout the course of the inquiry we had repeatedly encountered M. 

Plantard's name. Indeed, so far as release of information during the 

last twenty-five years or so was concerned, all trails seemed to lead 

ultimately to him. In 1960, for example, he was interviewed by Gerard 

de Sede and spoke of an "international secret' concealed at Gisors.zz 

During the subsequent decade he seems to have been a major source of 

information for 

M. de Sede's books on both Gisors and Rennes-leChateau .z3 According to 

recent disclosures, M. Plantard's grandfather was a personal 

acquaintance of Berenger Sauniere. And M. Plantard himself proved to 

own a number of tracts of land in the vicinity of Rennes-leChateau and 

Rennes-les-Bains, including the mountain of Blanchefort. When we 

interviewed the town antiquarian at Stenay, in the Arennes, we were 

told that the site of the 

Old Church of Saint Dagobert was also owned by M. Plantard. And according to the 

statutes we obtained from the French police, M. Plantard was listed as Secretary General 

of the Prieure de Sion. 

In 1973 a French magazine published what seems to have been the transcript of a 

telephone interview with M. Plantard. Not surprisingly he did not give very much away. 

As might be expected, his statements were allusive, cryptic and provocative raising, in 

fact, more questions than they answered. 

Thus, for example, when speaking of the Merovingian bloodline and its 

royal claims, he declared, "You must explore the origins of certain 

great French families, and you will then comprehend how a personage 

named Henri de 


Montpezat could one day become king. 'z4 And when asked the 

objectives of the Prieure de Sion, M. Plantard replied in a manner whose evasiveness was 

predictable, "I cannot tell you that. The society to which I am attached is extremely 

ancient. I merely succeed others, a point in a sequence. We are guardians of certain 


And without publicity. 125 

The same French magazine also published a character sketch of M. 

Plantard, written by his first wife, Anne Lea Hisler, who died in 1971 . 

If the magazine is to be believed, this sketch first appeared in 

Circuit, the 

Prieure de Sion's own internal publication for which M. Plantard is said to have written 

regularly under the pseudonym of "Chyren': 

Let us not forget that this psychologist was the friend of personages 

as diverse as Comte Israel Monti, one of the brothers of the Holy Vehm, 


Trarieux d'Egmont, one of the thirteen members of the Rose-Croix, 


Lecour, the philosopher on Atlantis, the Abbe Hoffet of the Service 


Documentation of the Vatican, Th. Moreaux, the director of the Conservatory at Bourges, 

etc. Let us remember that during the Occupation, he was arrested, suffered torture by the 

Gestapo and was interned as a political prisoner for long months. In his capacity of doctor 

of arcane sciences, he learned to appreciate the value of secret information, which no 

doubt led to his receiving the title of honorary member in several hermetic societies. 

All this has gone to form a singular personage, a mystic of peace, an apostle of liberty, an 

ascetic whose ideal is to serve the well-being of humanity. Is it astonishing therefore that 

he should become one of the eminences grises from whom the great of this world seek 


Invited in 1947 by the Federal Government of Switzerland, he resided 

for several years there, near Lake Uman, where numerous charges de 

missions and delegates from the entire world are gathered .26 

Madame Hisler undoubtedly intended this to be a glowing portrait. What emerges, 

however, is the sense of an individual more singular than anything else. In some places 

Madame Hisler's language becomes both vague and hyperbolic. Moreover, the diverse 

people listed as M. 

Plantard's distinguished acquaintances are, to say the least, a fairly 


odd lot. On the other hand, M. Plantard's contretemps with the 

Gestapo would seem to point to some laudable activity during the 

Occupation. And our own researches eventually yielded documentary 

evidence. As early as 1941 Pierre 

Plantard had begun editing the resistance journal Vaincre, published in 

a suburb of Paris. He was imprisoned by the Gestapo for more than a 

year, from October 1943 until the end of 1944.2' 

M. Plantard's friends and associates proved to include individuals 

rather better known than those listed by Madame Hisler. They included 


Malraux and Charles de Gaulle. Indeed M. Plantard's connections 

apparently extended well into the corridors of power. In 1958, for 

example, Algeria rose in revolt and General de Gaulle sought to be 

returned to the 

Presidency of France. He seems to have turned specifically to M. 

Plantard for aid. M. Plantard, together with Andre Malraux and others, 

seems to have responded by mobil ising the socalled "Committees of 

Public Safety' which played a critical role in returning de Gaulle to 

the Hysee Palace. In a letter dated July 29 th , 1958, de Gaulle 

personally thanked M. Plantard for his services. In a second letter, 

dated five days later, the General requested of M. Pllntard that the 

committees, having attained their objective, be disbanded. By an 

official communique in the press and on the radio, M. Plantard 

dissolved the committees .21 1 

Needless to say, we became increasingly anxious, as our research progressed, to make 

M. Plantard's acquaintance. There did not at first seem much likelihood of our doing so, 

however. M. Plantard appeared to be untraceable, and there seemed no way whereby 

we, as private individuals, could possibly locate him. Then, during the early spring of 

1979, we embarked on another film about Rennes-leChateau for the BBC, who placed 

their resources at our disposal. It was under the auspices of the BBC that we at last 

managed to establish contact with M. Plantard and the Prieure de Sion. 

Initial inquiries were undertaken by an Englishwoman, a journalist 

living in Paris, who had worked on various projects for the BBC and had 

acquired an imposing network of connections throughout France, through 


which she attempted to find the Prieure de Sion. At first, pursuing 

her quest through Masonic lodges and the Parisian esoteric "sub-culture', she 

encountered a predictable smoke-screen of mystification and contradiction. 

One journalist warned her, for example, that anyone probing Sion too 

closely sooner or later got killed. Another journalist told her that 

Sion had indeed existed during the Middle Ages, but no longer did 

today. An official of 

Grande Loge Alpina, on the other hand, reported that Sion did exist today but was a 

modern organisation it had never, he said, existed in the past. 

Threading her way through this welter of confusion, our researcher at last established 

contact with jean-Luc Chaumeil who had interviewed M. Plantard for a magazine and 

written extensively on Sauniere, Rennes-le Chateau and the Prieure de Sion. He was not 

himself a member of Sion, M. Chaumeil said, but he could contact M. Plantard and 

possibly arrange a meeting with us. In the meantime, he provided our researcher with 

additional fragments of information. 

According to M. Chaumeil the Prieure de Sion was not, strictly speaking, a "secret 

society'. It merely wished to be discreet about its existence, its activities and its 

membership. The entry in the Journal Officiel, M. Chaumeil declared, was spurious, 

placed there by certain "defecting members' of the Order. According to M. Chaumeil, the 

statutes registered with the police were also spurious, issuing from the same 'defecting 


M. Chaumeil confirmed our suspicions that Sion entertained ambitious political plans for 

the near future. Within a few years, he asserted, there would be a dramatic change in the 

French Government a change that would pave the way for a popular monarchy with a 

Merovingian ruler on the throne. 

And Sion, he asserted further, would be behind this change as it had been behind 

numerous other important changes for centuries. According to M. Chaumeil, Sion was 

anti-materialistic and intent on presiding over a restoration of "true values' values it would 

appear, of a spiritual, perhaps esoteric character. These values, M. Chaumeil explained, 

were ultimately pre-Christian despite Sion's ostensibly Christian orientation, despite the 

Catholic emphasis in the statutes. 


M. Chaumeil also reiterated that Sion's Grand Master at that time was 

Franpois Ducaud-Bourget. When asked how the latter's 

Catholic traditionalism could be reconciled with pre-Christian values, M. Chaumeil replied 

cryptically that we would have to ask the Abbe Ducaud Bourget himself. 

M. Chaumeil emphasised the antiquity of the Prieure de Sion, as well as the breadth of its 

membership. It included, he said, members from all spheres of life. Its objectives, he 

added, were not exclusively confined to restoring the Merovingian bloodline. And at this 

point, M. 

Chaumeil made a very curious statement to our researcher. Not all 

members of the Prieure de 

Sion, he said, were Jewish. The implication of this apparent non 

sequitur is obvious that some members of the Order, if not indeed many, 


Jewish. And again we were confronted with a baffling contradiction. Even if the statutes 

were spurious, how could we reconcile an Order with Jewish membership and a Grand 

Master who embraced extreme Catholic traditionalism and whose close friends included 

Marcel Lefebvre, a man known for statements verging on antiSemitism? 

M. Chaumeil made other perplexing statements as well. He spoke, for 

Merovingian bloodline and whose 'sacred mission was therefore obvious'. 

This assertion is all the more baffling in that there is no known 

Prince of 

Lorraine today, not even a titular one. Was M. Chaumeil implying that such a Prince did 

actually exist, living perhaps incognito? Or did he mean 'prince' in the broader sense of 

'scion'? In that case, the present prince (as opposed to Prince) of Lorraine is Dr. Otto von 

Habsburg, who is titular duke of Lorraine. 

On the whole, M. Chaumeil's answers were less answers than they were bases for further 

questions and our researcher, in the short time of preparation allowed her, did not know 

precisely which questions to ask. 

She made considerable headway, however, by stressing the BBC's interest 

in the matter; for the BBC, on the continent, enjoys considerably more 

prestige than it does in Britain and is still a name to be conjured 

with. In consequence the prospect of BBC involvement was not to be 

taken lightly. "Propaganda' is too strong a word, but a BBC film which 


emphasised and authenticated certain facts would certainly have been 

attractive a powerful means of gaining credence and creating a 

psychological climate or atmosphere, especially in the 

English-speaking world. If the Merovingians and the Prieure de Sion became accepted as 

'historical givens' or generally acknowledged facts like, say, the Battle of Hastings or the 

murder of Thomas a Becket this would patently have been to Sion's advantage. It was 

undoubtedly such considerations that prompted M. Chaumeil to telephone M. Plantard. 

Eventually, in March 1979, with our BBC producer, Roy Davies, and his researcher 

functioning as liaison, a meeting was arranged between M. Plantard and ourselves. 

When it occurred, it had something of the character of a meeting between Mafia 

godfathers. It was held on 'neutral ground' in a Paris cinema rented by the BBC for the 

occasion, and all parties were accompanied by an entourage. 

M. Plantard proved to be a dignified, courteous man of discreetly aristocratic bearing, 

unostentatious in appearance, with a gracious, volatile but soft-spoken manner. He 

displayed enormous erudition and impressive nimbleness of mind a gift for dry, witty, 

mischievous but not in any way barbed repartee. There was frequently a gently amused, 

indulgent twinkle in his eyes, an almost avuncular quality. For all his modest, unassertive 

manner, he exercised an imposing authority over his companions. 

And there was a marked quality of asceticism and austerity about him. He did not flaunt 

any wealth. His apparel was conservative, tasteful, insouciantly informal, but neither 

ostentatiously elegant nor manifestly expensive. As far as we could gather, he did not 

even drive a car. 

At our first, and two subsequent meetings with him, M. Plantard made it 

clear to us that he would say nothing whatever about the Prieure de 

Sion's activities or objectives at the present time. On the other hand 

he offered to answer any questions we might have about the Order's past 

history. And although he refused to discuss the future in any public 

statements on film, for example -he did vouchsafe us a few hints in 

conversation. He declared, for example, that the Prieure de Sion did 

in fact hold the lost treasure of the Temple of Jerusalem the booty 

plundered by Titus's Roman legions in A.D. 70. These items he stated, 


would be' returned to Israel when the time is right'. But whatever 

the historical, archaeological or even political significance of this treasure, M. Plantard 

dismissed it as incidental. The true treasure, he insisted, was 'spiritual'. And he implied 

that this 'spiritual treasure' consisted, at least in part, of a secret. In some unspecified way 

the secret in question would facilitate a major social change. M. Plantard echoed M. 

Chaumeil in stating that, in the near future, there would be a dramatic upheaval in France 

not a revolution, but a radical change in French institutions which would pave the way for 

the reinstatement of a monarchy. This assertion was not made with any prophetic 

histrionics. On the contrary, M. Plantard simply assured us of it, very quietly, very matter- 

of-factly and very definitively. 

In M. Plantard's discourse there were certain curious inconsistencies. 

At times, for instance, he seemed to be speaking on behalf of the 

Prieure de 

Sion he would say "we' and thereby indicate the Order. At other times, he would seem to 

dissociate himself from the Order would speak of himself, alone, as a Merovingian 

claimant, a rightful king, and Sion as his allies or supporters. We seemed to be hearing 

two quite distinct voices which were not always compatible. One was the voice of Sion's 


The other was the voice of an incognito king who "rules but does not govern' and who 

regarded Sion as one might a sort of privy council. This dichotomy between the two 

voices was never satisfactorily resolved, and M. Plantard could not be prevailed upon to 

clarify it. 

After three meetings with M. Plantard and his associates, we were not 

significantly wiser than we had been before. Apart from the Committees 


Public Safety and the letters from Charles de Gaulle, we received no 

indication of Sion's political influence or power, or that the men we 

had met were in any position to transform the government and 

institutions of 

France. And we received no indication of why the Merovingian 


Should be taken any more seriously than the various attempts to restore 

any other royal dynasty. There are several Stuart claimants to the 

British throne, for example and their claims, at least so far as modern 

historians are concerned, rest on a more solid basis than that of the 

Merovingians. For that matter, there are numerous other claimants to 


vacant crowns and thrones throughout Europe; and there are surviving 

members of the Bourbon, Habsburg, Hohenzollern and Romanov dynasties. 

Why should they be accorded any less credibility than the Merovingians? 

In terms of "absolute legitimacy', and from a purely technical point of 

view, the 

Merovingian claim might indeed take precedence. But the matter would still appear to be 

academic in the modern world as academic, say, as a contemporary Irishman proving 

descent from the High Kings of Tara. 

Again we considered dismissing the Prieur6 de Sion as a minor 'lunatic 

fringe' sect, if not an outright hoax. And yet all our own research 

had indicated that the Order, in the past, had had real power and been 

involved in matters of high-level international import. Even today 

there was clearly more to it than met the eye. There was nothing 

mercenary about it, for example, or exploitative in any way. Had M 

Plantard so desired, he could have turned the Prieure de Sion into an 

extremely lucrative affair like many other fashionable "new age' cults, 

sects and institutions. Yet most of the seminal "Prieure documents' 

remained confined to private printings. And 

Sion itself did not solicit recruits not even in the way that a Masonic lodge might. Its 

membership, as far as we could determine, remained rigorously fixed at a precise number, 

and new members were admitted only as vacancies occurred. Such 'exclusiveness' 

attested, among other things, to an extraordinary self-confidence, a certainty that it simply 

did not need to enrol swarms of novices for financial gain or any other reason. In other 

words, it already "had something going for it' something that seems to have enlisted the 

allegiance of men like Malraux and de Gaulle. But could we seriously believe that men 

like Malraux and de Gaulle were intent on restoring the Merovingian bloodline? 

The Politics of the Prieure de Sion 

In 1973 a book was published entitled Les Dessous dune ambition 

politique ("The Undercurrents of a Political Ambition'). This book, 

written by a Swiss journalist named Mathieu Paoli, recounts the 


author's exhaustive attempts to investigate the Prieure de Sion. Like 

us, M. Paoli eventually established contact with a representative of the Order whom he 

does not identify by name. But M. Paoli did not have the prestige of the BBC behind him, 

and the representative he met if we can gauge by his account would seem to have been 

of lesser status than M. Plantard. Nor was this representative as communicative as M. 

Plantard was with us. At the same time, M. Paoli, being based on the 

continent and enjoying a greater mobility than we do, was able to 

pursue certain leads and undertake "on the spot' research in a way that 

we could not. As a result his book was extremely valuable and contains 

much new information so much, in fact, that it appeared to warrant a 

sequel, and we wondered why M. Paoli had not written one. When we 

inquired about him, we were told that in 1977 or 1978 he had been shot 

as a spy by the 

Israeli government for attempting to sell certain secrets to the Arabs. 


M. Paoli's approach, as he describes it in his book, was in many 

respects similar to our own. He too contacted the daughter of Leo 

Schidlof in 

London; and he too was told by Miss Schidlof that her father, to her 

knowledge, had no connection whatever with secret societies, 

Freemasonry or 

Merovingian genealogies. Like our BBC researcher, M. Paoli also 


Grande Loge Alpine and met with the Loge's Chancellor, and each received an 

ambiguous reply. According to M. Paoli, the Chancellor denied all knowledge of anyone 

named "Lobineau' or "Schidlof. As for the various works bearing the Alpina imprint, the 

Chancellor asserted quite categorically that they did not exist. And yet a personal friend of 

M. Paoli's who was also a member of Alpina, claimed to have seen the works in the 

Loge's library. M. Paoli's conclusion is as follows: 

There is one of two possibilities. Given the specific character of the 

works of Henri Lobineau, Grande Loge Alpine which forbids all political 

activity both within Switzerland and without does not want known its 

involvement in the affair. Or another movement has availed itself of 

the name of the 

Grande Loge in order to camouflage its own activities. 3 

In the Versailles Annexe of the Bibliotheque Nationale, M. Paoli 


discovered four issues of Circuit,3' the magazine Fig. 2 The Cover 
Design of the Novel, Circuit 
~ 1 / r,1 Mi-." 


ci 11 %VjVn — " /I/ i I .n 11 /l\ 

i ~y%1\\ 
,rh 1/r/ 


r ~ ; 1 / 239 mentioned in the Prieure de Sion's 

statutes. The first one was dated July 1 st , 1959, and its director was 

listed as Pierre Plantard. But the magazine itself did not purport to 

be connected with, the Prieure de Sion. On the contrary it declared 

itself the official organ of something called the 

Federation of French Forces. There was even a seal, which M. Paoli reproduces in his 

book, and the following data: 

Publication periodique culturelle de la Federation des Forces Franpaises 116 Rue Pierre 

Jouhet, 116 Aulnay-sous-Bois (Seine-et-Oise) 

Tel: 929-72-49 

M. Paoli checked the above address. No magazine had ever been 

published there. The telephone number, too, proved to be false. And 

all M. Paoli's attempts to track the Federation of French Forces proved 

futile. To this day no information on any such organisation has been 

forthcoming. But it would hardly seem coincidental that the French 

headquarters of the 

Committees of Public Safety were also Aulnay-sous-Bois. 3z The 

Federation of 

French Forces would thus appear to have been in some way connected with the 

committees. There would seem to be considerable basis for this assumption. 

M. Paoli reports that Volume 2 of Circuit alludes to a letter from de 

Gaulle to Pierre Plantard, thanking the latter for his service. The 

service in question would seem to have been the work of the Committees 

of Public 


According to M. Paoli, most of the articles in Circuit dealt with esoteric matters. They were 

signed by Pierre Plantard under both his own name and the pseudonym "Chyren' Anne 

Lea Hisler and others with whom we were already familiar. At the same time, however, 

there were other articles of a very different kind. Some of them, for example, spoke of a 

secret science of vines and viticulture the grafting of vines which, apparently, had some 

crucial bearing on politics. This seemed to make no sense unless we assumed that vines 

and viticulture were to be understood allegorically a metaphor perhaps for genealogies, for 

family trees and dynastic alliances. 

When the articles in Circuit were not arcane or obscure, they were, 


according to M. Paoli, fervently nationalistic. In one of them, for 

instance, signed Adrian Sevrette, the author asserts that no solution 

for existing problems will be forthcoming except through new methods 

and new men, for politics are dead. The curious fact remains that men 

do not wish to recognise this. There exists only one question: 

economic organisation. But do there still exist men who are capable of 

thinking France, as during the Occupation, when patriots and resistance 

fighters did not bother themselves about the political tendencies of 

their comrades in the fight ?33 

And from Volume 4 of Circuit, M. Paoli quotes the following passage: 

We desire that the 1 500 copies of Circuit be a contact which kindles a 

light, we desire that the voice of patriots be able to transcend 

obstacles as in 1940, when they left invaded France to come and knock 

on the office door of the leader of Free France. Today, it is the 

same, before all we are 

French, we are that force which fights in one way or another to 

construct a France cleansed and new. This must be done in the same 

patriotic spirit, with the same will and solidarity of action. Thus we 

cite here what we declare to be an old philosophy .34 

There then follows a detailed plan of government to restore to France a lost lustre. It 

insists, for example, on the dismantling of departments and the restoration of provinces: 

The department is but an arbitrary system, created at the time of the 

Revolution, dictated and determined by the era in accordance with the demands of 

locomotion (the horse). Today, it no longer represents anything. 

In contrast, the province is a living portion of France; it is a whole 

vestige of our past, the same basis as that which formed the existence 

of our nation; it has its own folklore, its customs, its monuments, 

often its local dialects, which we wish to reclaim and promulgate. The 

province must have its own specific apparatus for defence and 

administration, adapted to its specific needs, with the national unit 


.35 M. Paoli then quotes eight pages that follow. The material they 

contain is organised under the following subheadings: 

Council of the Provinces Council of State Parliamentary Council Taxes 

Work and Production Medical National Education Age of Majority Housing 

and Schools 

The plan of government proposed under these subheadings is not inordinately 

controversial, and could probably be instituted with a minimum of upheaval. 

Nor can the plan be labelled politically. It cannot be called 

'left-wing' or 'right-wing', liberal or conservative, radical or 

reactionary. On the whole, it seems fairly innocuous; and one is at a 

loss to see how it would necessarily restore any particular lost lustre 

to France. As M. Paoli says, "The propositions .. . are not 

revolutionary. However, they rest on a realistic analysis of the 

actual structures of the French state, and are impregnated with a solid 

good sense. '36 But then the plan of government outlined in Circuit 

makes no explicit mention of the real basis on which, if implemented, 

it would presumably ultimately rest the restoration of a popular 

monarchy ruled by the Merovingian bloodline. In Circuit there would be 

no need to state this, for it would constitute an underlying 'given', a 

premise on which everything published in the magazine pivoted. For the 

magazine's intended readers the restoration of the Merovingian 

bloodline was clearly too obvious and accepted an objective to need be 


At this point irt his book M. Paoli poses a crucial question a question that had haunted us 

as well: 

We have, on the one hand, a concealed descent from the Merovingians 

and, on the other, a secret movement, the Prieure de Sion, whose goal 

is to facilitate the restoration of a popular monarchy of the 

Merovingian line . But it is necessary to know if this movement 

contents itself with esoterico-political speculations (whose unavowed 


end is to make much money by exploiting the world's gullibility and 

naivete) or whether this movement is genuinely active. 3' 

M. Paoli then considers this question, reviewing the evidence at his disposal. His 

conclusion is as follows: 

Unquestionably, the Prieure de Sion seems to possess powerful connections. 

In actuality, any creation of an association is submitted to a 

preliminary inquiry by the Minister of the Interior. This obtains as 

well for a magazine, a publishing house. And yet these people are able 

to publish, under pseudonyms, at false addresses, through non-existent 

publishing houses, works which cannot be found in circulation either in 

Switzerland or in France. There are two possibilities. Either 

government authorities are not doing their jobs. Or else .. .3e 

M. Paoli does not spell out the alternative. At the same time it is apparent that he 

personally regards the unstated alternative as the more probable of the two. M. Paoli's 

conclusion, in short, is that government officials, and a great many other powerful people 

as well are either members of Sion or obedient to it. If this is so, Sion must be a very 

influential organisation indeed. 

Having conducted extensive research of his own, M. Paoli is satisfied with the 

Merovingian claim to legitimacy. To that extent, he admits, he can make sense of Sion's 

objectives. Beyond this point, however, he confesses himself to be profoundly puzzled. 

What is the point, he wonders, of restoring the Merovingian bloodline today, 1300 years 

after it was deposed? Would a modern-day Merovingian regime be different from any 

other modern day regime? 

If so, how and why? What is so special about the Merovingians? Even if their claim is 

legitimate, it would seem to be irrelevant. Why should so many powerful and intelligent 

people, both today and in the past, accord it not only their attention, but their allegiance as 


We, of course, were posing precisely the same questions. Like M. 

Paoli, we were prepared to acknowledge the Merovingian claim to 

legitimacy. But what possible significance could such a claim enjoy 

today? Could the technical legitimacy of a monarchy really be so 

persuasive and convincing an argument? Why, in the late twentieth 


century, should any monarchy, legitimate or not, command the kind of 

allegiance the 

Merovingians seemed to command? 

If we were dealing only with a group of idiosyncratic cranks, we could dismiss the matter 

out of hand. But we were not. On the contrary, we seemed to be dealing with an 

extremely influential organisation which included in its ranks some of the most important, 

most distinguished, most acclaimed and most responsible men of our age. And these 

men, in many cases, seemed to regard the restoration of the Merovingian dynasty as a 

sufficiently valid goal to transcend their personal political, social and religious differences. 

It seemed to make no sense that the restoration of a 1300-year-old bloodline should 

constitute so vital a cause celebre for so many public and highly esteemed people. 

Unless, of course, we were overlooking something. 

Unless legitimacy was not the only Merovingian claim. Unless there was 

something else of immense consequence that differentiated the 

Merovingians from other dynasties. Unless, in short, there was 


something very special indeed about the Merovingian blood royal. 9 

The Long-haired Monarchs 

By this time, of course, we had already researched the Merovingian dynasty. 

As far as we could we had groped our way through a mist of fantasy and 

obscurity even more opaque than that surrounding the Cathars and the 


Templar. We had spent some months endeavouring to disentangle complex 

strands of intertwined history and fable. Despite our efforts, 

however, the 

Merovingians remained for the most part shrouded in mystery. 

The Merovingian dynasty issued from the Sicambrians, a tribe of the 

Germanic people collectively known as the Franks. Between the fifth 

and seventh centuries the Merovingians ruled large parts of what are 

now France and Germany. The period of their ascendancy coincides with 

the period of 

King Arthur a period which constitutes the setting for the romances of the Holy Grail. It is 

probably the most impenetrable period of what are now called the Dark Ages. But the 

Dark Ages, we discovered, had not been truly dark. On the contrary it quickly became 

apparent to us that someone had deliberately obscured them. To the extent that the 

Roman Church exercised a veritable monopoly on learning, and especially on writing, the 

records that survived represent certain vested interests. Almost everything else has been 

lost or censored. But here and there something from time to time slipped through the 

curtain drawn across the past, seeped out to us despite the official silence. From these 

shadowy vestiges, a reality could be reconstructed a reality of a most interesting kind, and 

one very discordant with the tenets of orthodoxy. 

Legend and the Merovingians 


We encountered a number of enigmas surrounding the origins of the 

Merovingian dynasty. One usually thinks of a dynasty, for example, as 

a ruling family or house which not merely succeeds another ruling 

family or house, but does so, by virtue of having displaced, deposed or 

supplanted its predecessors. In other words one thinks of dynasties as 

commencing with a coup d'etat of one sort or another, often entailing 

the extinction of the previous ruling line. The Wars of the Roses in 

England, for instance, marked the change of a dynasty. A century or so 

later the 

Stuarts mounted the English throne only when the Tudors were extinct. 

And the Stuarts themselves were deposed forcibly by the houses of 

Orange and 


In the case of the Merovingians, however, there was no such violent or 

abrupt transition, no usurpation, no displacement, no extinction of an 

earlier regime. On the contrary the house that came to be called 

Merovingian seems already to have ruled over the Franks. The Merovingians were 

already rightful and duly acknowledged kings. But there appears to have been something 

special about one of them so much so that he conferred his name on the entire dynasty. 

The ruler from whom the Merovingians derived their name is most elusive, his historical 

reality eclipsed by legend. Merovee (Merovech or Meroveus) was a semi supernatural 

figure worthy of classical myth. Even his name bears witness to his miraculous origin and 

character. It echoes the French word for 'mother', as well as both the French and Latin 

words for 'sea'. 

According to both the leading Frankish chronicler and to subsequent 

tradition, Merovee was born of two fathers. When already pregnant by 

her husband, King Clodio, Merovee's mother supposedly went swimming in 

the ocean. In the water she is said to have been seduced and/or raped 

by an unidentified marine creature from beyond the sea bes tea 


Quinotauri similis', a "beast of Neptune similar to a Quinotaur', whatever a Quinotaur may 

have been. This creature apparently impregnated the lady a second time. And when 

Merovee was born, there allegedly flowed in his veins a commingling of two different 

bloods the blood of a Frankish ruler and of a mysterious aquatic creature. 

Such fantastic legends are quite common, of course, not only in the 


ancient world, but in later European tradition as well. Usually they 
are not entirely imaginary, but symbolic or allegorical, masking some concrete historical 
fact behind their fabulous facade. In the case of Merovee the fabulous facade might well 
indicate an intermarriage of some sort a pedigree transmitted through the mother, as in 
Judaism, for instance, or a mingling of dynastic lines whereby the Franks became allied by 
blood with someone else; quite possibly with a source from 'beyond the sea' - a source 
which, for one or another reason, was transformed by subsequent fable into a sea- 

In any case by virtue of his dual blood Merovee was said to have been 
endowed with an impressive array of superhuman powers. And whatever 
the historical actuality behind the legend, the Merovingian dynasty 
continued to be mantled in an aura of magic, sorcery and the 
supernatural. According to tradition, Merovingian monarchs were occult 
adepts, initiates in arcane sciences, practitioners of esoteric arts 
worthy rivals of Merlin their fabulous near-contemporary. They were 
often called 'the sorcerer kings' or 'thaumaturge kings'. By virtue of 
some miraculous property in their blood they could allegedly heal by 
laying on of hands; and according to one account the tassels at the 
fringes of their robes were deemed to possess miraculous curative 
powers. They were said to be capable of clairvoyant or telepathic 
communication with beasts and with the natural world around them, and 
to wear a powerful magical necklace. They were said to possess an 
arcane spell which protected them and granted them phenomenal longevity 
which history, incidentally, does not seem to confirm. And they all 
supposedly bore a distinctive birthmark, which distinguished them from 
all other men, which rendered them immediately identifiable and which 
attested to their semidivine or sacred blood. This birthmark reputedly 
took the form of a red cross, either over the heart a curious 
anticipation of the 

Templar blazon or between the shoulder blades. 
The Merovingians were also frequently called 'the longhaired kings'. 

Samson in the Old Testament, they were loath to cut their hair. Like 
Samson's, their hair supposedly contained their vertu the essence and 
secret of their power. Whatever the basis for this belief in the power 


of the Merovingians' hair, it seems to have been taken quite 

seriously, and as late as A.D. 754. When Childeric III was deposed in that year and 

imprisoned, his hair was ritually shorn at the pope's express command. 

However extravagant the legends surrounding the Merovingians, they 

would seem to rest on some concrete basis, some status enjoyed by the 

Merovingian monarchs during their own lifetime. In fact the 

Merovingians were not regarded as kings in the modern sense of that 

word. They were regarded as priest-kings embodiments of the divine, in 

other words, not unlike, say, the ancient Egyptian pharaohs. They did 

not rule simply by God's grace. On the contrary they were apparently 

deemed the living embodiment and incarnation of God's grace a status 

usually reserved exclusively for 

Jesus. And they seem to have engaged in ritual practices which partook, if anything, 

more of priesthood than of kingship. Skulls found of Merovingian monarchs, for example, 

bear what appears to be a ritual incision or hole in the crown. Similar incisions can be 

found in the skulls of high priests of early Tibetan Buddhism to allow the soul to escape on 

death, and to open direct contact with the divine. There is reason to suppose that the 

clerical tonsure is a residue of the Merovingian practice. 

In 1653 an important Merovingian tomb was found in the Ardennes the tomb of King 

Childeric I, son of Merovee and father of Clovis, most famous and influential of all 

Merovingian rulers. The tomb contained arms, treasure and regalia, such as one would 

expect to find in a royal tomb. It also contained items less characteristic of kingship than 

of magic, sorcery and divination a severed horse's head, for instance, a bull's head made 

of gold and a crystal ball." 

One of the most sacred of Merovingian symbols was the bee; and King 

Childeric's tomb contained no less than three hundred miniature bees 

made of solid gold. Along with the tomb's other contents, these bees 

were entrusted to Leopold Wilhelm von Habsburg, military governor of 


Austrian Netherlands at the time and brother of the Emperor Ferdinand 


Eventually most of Childeric's treasure was returned to France. And when he was 

crowned emperor in 1804 Napoleon made a special point of having the golden bees 

affixed to his coronation robes. 


This incident was not the only manifestation of Napoleon's interest in 

the Merovingians. He commissioned a compilation of genealogies by one 

Abbe Pichon, to determine whether or not the Merovingian bloodline had 

survived the fall of the dynasty. It was on these genealogies, 

commissioned by Napoleon, that the genealogies in the "Prieure 

documents' were in large part based .3 

The Bear from Arcadia 

The legends surrounding the Merovingians proved worthy of the age of Arthur and the 

Grail romances. At the same time they constituted a daunting rampart between us and 

the historical reality we wanted to explore. When we at last gained access to it or what 

little of it survived this historical reality was somewhat different from the legends. But it 

was not any the less mysterious, extraordinary or evocative. 

We could find little verifiable information about the true origins of 


Merovingians. They themselves claimed descent from Noah, whom they 

regarded, even more than Moses, as the source of all Biblical wisdom an 

interesting position, which surfaced again a thousand years later in 

European Freemasonry. The Merovingians also claimed direct descent from ancient Troy 

which, whether true or not, would serve to explain the occurrence in France of Trojan 

names like Troyes and Paris. More contemporary writers including the authors of the 

"Prieure documents' have endeavoured to trace the Merovingians to ancient Greece, and 

specifically to the region known as Arcadia. According to these documents, the ancestors 

of the Merovingians were connected with Arcadia's royal house. At some unspecified 

date towards the advent of the Christian era they supposedly migrated up the Danube, 

then up the Rhine, and established themselves in what is now western Germany. 

Whether the Merovingians derived ultimately from Troy or from Arcadia 

would now seem to be academic, and there is not necessarily a conflict 

between the two claims. According to Homer a substantial contingent of 


Arcadians was present at the siege of Troy. According to early Greek 

histories, Troy was in fact founded by settlers from Arcadia. It is 

also worth noting in passing that the bear, in ancient Arcadia, was a 

sacred animal a totem on which mystery cults were based and to which 

ritual sacrifice was made." Indeed, the very name "Arcadia' derives 


"Arkades', which means "People of the Bear'. The ancient Arcadians claimed descent 

from Arkas, the patron deity of the land, whose name also means 'bear'. According to 

Greek myth, Arkas was the son of Kallisto, a nymph connected with Artemis, the 

Huntress. To the modern mind Kallisto is most familiar as the constellation Ursa Major the 

Great Bear. 

For the Sicambrian Franks, from whom the Merovingians issued, the bear enjoyed a 

similar exalted status. Like the ancient Arcadians they worshipped the bear in the form of 

Artemis or, more specifically, the form of her Gallic equivalent, Arduina, patron goddess of 

the Ardennes. The mystery cult of Arduina persisted well into the Middle Ages, one centre 

of it being the town of Luneville, not far from two other sites recurring repeatedly in our 

investigation Stenay and Orval. As late as 1304 statutes were still being promulgated by 

the Church forbidding worship of the heathen goddess." 

Given the magical, mythic and totemic status of the bear in the 

Merovingian heartland of the Ardennes, it is not surprising that the 

name "Ursus' Latin for "bear' should be associated in the "Prieure 

documents' with the 

Merovingian royal line. Rather more surprising is the fact that the Welsh word for bear is 

"arth' from whence the name "Arthur' derives. Although we did not pursue the matter at 

this point, the coincidence intrigued us that Arthur should not only be contemporary with 

the Merovingians, but also, like them, associated with the bear. 

The Sicambrians Enter Gaul 

In the early fifth century the invasion of the Huns provoked 

large-scale migrations of almost all European tribes. It was at this 

time that the Merovingians or, more accurately, the Sicambrian 

ancestors of the Merovingians crossed the Rhine and moved en masse into 


Gaul, establishing themselves in what is now Belgium and northern 

France, in the vicinity of the Ardennes. A century later this region came to be called the 

kingdom of Austrasie. And the core of the kingdom of Austrasie was what is now known 

as Lorraine. 

The Sicambrian influx into Gaul did not consist of a horde of wild unkempt barbarians 

tumultuously overrunning the land. On the contrary it was a placid and civilised affair. For 

centuries the Sicambrians had maintained close contact with the Romans; and though 

they were pagans, they were riot savages. Indeed they were well versed in Roman 

customs and administration, and followed Roman fashions. Some Sicambrians had 

become high-ranking officers in the imperial army. Some had even become Roman 

consuls. Thus, the Sicambrian influx was less an onslaught or an invasion than a kind of 

peaceful absorption. 

And when, towards the end of the fifth century, the 

Roman empire collapsed, the Sicambrians filled the vacuum. They did 

not do so violently or by force. They retained the old customs and 

altered very little. With no upheaval whatever; they assumed control 

of the already existing but vacant administrative apparatus. The 

regime of the early 

Merovingians thus conformed fairly closely to the model of the old Roman empire. 

Merovee and His Descendants 

Our research exhumed mention of at least two historical figures named 

Merovee, and it is not altogether clear which of them legend credits with descent from a 

sea creature One Merovee was a Sicambrian chieftain, alive in 417, who fought under the 

Romans and died in 438. 

It has been suggested by at least one modern expert on the period that 

this Merovee actually visited 

Rome and caused something of a sensation. There is certainly a record of a visit by an 

imposing Frankish leader, conspicuous for his flowing yellow hair. 

In 448 the son of this first Merovee, bearing the same name as his 

father, was proclaimed king of the Franks at Tournai and reigned until 

his death ten years later. He may have been the first official king of 


the Franks as united people. By virtue of this perhaps, or of 

whatever was symbolised by his fabulous dual birth, the dynasty which succeeded him 

has since been called Merovingian. 

Under Merovee's successors the kingdom of the Franks flourished. It 

was not the crude barbaric culture often imagined. On the contrary, it 

warrants comparison in many respects with the 'high civilisation' of 

Byzantium. Even secular literacy was encouraged. Under the 

Merovingians secular literacy was more widespread than it would be two 

dynasties and five hundred years later. This literacy extended up to 

the rulers themselves a most surprising fact, given the rude, untutored 

and unlettered character of later medieval monarchs. King Chilperic, 

for example, who reigned during the sixth century, not only built 

lavish Roman-style amphitheatres at Paris and Soissons, but was also a 

dedicated and accomplished poet, who took considerable pride in his 

craft. And there are verbatim accounts of his discussions with 

ecclesiastical authorities which reflect an extraordinary subtlety, 

sophistication and learning hardly qualities one would associate with a 

king of the time. In many of these discussions Chilperic proves 

himself more than equal to his clerical interlocutors. s 

Under Merovingian rule the Franks were often brutal, but they were not 

really a warlike people by nature or disposition. They were not like 


Vikings, for instance, or the Vandals, Visigoths or Huns. Their main 

activities were farming and commerce. Much attention was devoted to 

maritime trade, especially in the Mediterranean. And the artefacts of 


Merovingian epoch reflect a quality of workmanship which is truly amazing as the Sutton 

Hoo treasure ship attests. 

The wealth accumulated by the Merovingian kings was enormous, even by 

later standards. Much of this wealth was in gold coins of superb 

quality, produced by royal mints at certain important sites including 

what is now 

Sion in Switzerland. Specimens of such coins were found in the Sutton 

Hoo treasure ship, and can now be seen in the British Museum. Many of 

the coins bear a distinctive equal-armed cross, identical to the one 

subsequently adopted during the Crusades for the Frankish kingdom of 


Jerusalem. Blood Royal 

Although Merovingian culture was both temperate and surprisingly modern, the monarchs 
who presided over it were another matter. They were not typical even of rulers of their 
own age, for the atmosphere of mystery and legend, magic and the supernatural, 
surrounded them even during their lifetimes. If the customs and economy of the 


Merovingian world did not differ markedly from others of the period, the aura about the 



Sons of the Merovingian blood were not "created' kings. On the contrary they "mere 

automatically regarded as such on the advent of their twelfth birthday. There was no 

public ceremony of anointment, no coronation of any sort. Power was simply assumed, as 

by sacred right. But while the king was supreme authority in the realm, he was never 

obliged or even expected to sully his hands with the mundane business of governing- He 

was essentially a ritualised figure, a priest-king, and his role was not necessarily to do 

anything, simply to be. The king ruled, in short, but did not govern. In this respect, his 

status was somewhat similar to that of the present British royal family. 

Government and administration were left to a non-royal official, the 

equivalent of a chancellor, who held the title 

"Mayor of the Palace'. On the whole the structure of the Merovingian regime had many 

things in common with modern constitutional monarchies. 

Even after their conversion to Christianity the Merovingian rulers, like the Patriarchs of the 

Old Testament, were polygamous. On occasion they enjoyed harems of oriental 

proportions. Even when the aristocracy, under pressure from the Church, became 

rigorously monogamous, the monarchy remained exempt. And the Church, curiously 

enough, seems to have accepted this prerogative without any inordinate protest. 

According to one modern commentator: 

Why was it [polygamy] tacitly approved by the Franks themselves? We 

may here be in the presence of ancient usage of polygamy in a royal 

family a family of such rank that its blood could not be ennobled by 


any match, however advantageous, nor degraded by the blood of slaves 

... It was a matter of indifference whether a queen were taken from a royal dynasty or 

from among courtesans .. . The fortune of the dynasty rested in its blood and was shared 

by all who were of that blood." 

And again, "It is just possible that, in the Merovingians, we may have a dynasty of 

Germanic Heerkonige derived from an ancient kingly family of the migration period." 

But how many families can there possibly have been in the whole of 

world history which enjoyed such extraordinary and exalted status? Why 

should the 

Merovingians do so? Why should their blood come to be invested with such immense 

power? These questions continued to perplex us. 

Clovis and His Pact with the Church 

The most famous of all Merovingian rulers was Merovee's grandson, 

Clovis I, who reigned between 481 and 51 1 . Clovis's name is familiar 

to any French schoolchild, for it was under Clovis that the Franks were 

converted to Roman 

Christianity. And it was through Clovis that Rome began to establish her undisputed 

supremacy in Western Europe a supremacy that would remain unchallenged for a 

thousand years. 

By 496 the Roman Church was in a precarious situation. During the 

course of the fifth century, its very existence had been severely 

threatened. Between 384 and 399 the bishop of Rome had already begun 

to call himself the pope, but his official status was no greater than 

that of any other bishop, and quite different from that of the pope 

today. He was not, in any sense, the spiritual leader or supreme head 

of Christendom. He merely represented a single body of vested 

interests, one of many divergent forms of 

Christianity and one which was desperately fighting for survival against a multitude of 

conflicting schisms and theological points of view. 

Officially the Roman Church had no greater authority than, say, the 

Celtic church -with which it was constantly at odds. It had no greater 

authority than heresies such as Arianism, which denied Jesus's divinity 

and insisted on his humanity. Indeed during much of the fifth century 


every bishopric in Western Europe was either Arian or vacant. 

If the Roman Church was to survive, still more assert its authority, it 

would need the support of a champion a powerful secular figure who 

might represent it. If Christianity was to evolve in accordance with 

Roman doctrine, that doctrine would have to be disseminated, 

implemented and imposed by secular force a force sufficiently powerful 

to withstand and eventually extirpate the challenge of rival Christian 

creeds. Not surprisingly the Roman Church, in its most acute moment of 

need, turned to 


By 486 Clovis had significantly increased the extent of Merovingian 

domains, striking out from the Ardennes to annex a number of adjacent 

kingdoms and principalities, vanquishing a number of rival tribes. As 

a result, many important cities Troyes, for instance, Rheims and Amiens 

were incorporated into his realm. Within a decade it was apparent 


Clovis was well on his way to becoming the most powerful potentate in 

Western Europe. 

The conversion and baptism of Clovis proved to be of crucial importance to our 

investigation. An account of it was compiled, in all its particulars and details, around the 

time it happened. Two and a half centuries later this account, called The Life of Saint 

Remy, was destroyed, except for a few scattered manuscript pages. And the evidence 

suggests that it was destroyed deliberately. Nevertheless the fragments that survive bear 

witness to the importance of what was involved. 

According to tradition, Clovis's conversion was a sudden and unexpected 

affair, effected by the king's wife, Clothilde - a fervent devotee of 

Rome, who seems to have badgered her husband until he accepted her 

faith and who was subsequently canonised for her efforts. In these 

efforts she was said to have been guided and assisted by her confessor, 

Saint Remy. But behind these traditions, there lies a very practical 

and mundane historical reality. When Clovis was converted to Roman 

Christianity and became first 

Catholic king of the Franks, he had more to gain than his wife's 

approbation, and a kingdom more tangibly substantial than the kingdom 



It is known that in 496 a number of secret meetings occurred between 

Clovis and Saint R6my. Immediately thereafter an accord was ratified 



Clovis and the Roman Church. For Rome this accord constituted a major 

political triumph. It would ensure the Church's survival, and establish that Church as 

supreme spiritual authority in the West. It would consolidate Rome's status as an equal to 

the Greek Orthodox faith based in Constantinople. It would offer a prospect of Roman 

hegemony and an effective means of eradicating the hydra heads of heresy. And Clovis 

would be the means of implementing these things the sword of the Church of Rome, the 

instrument whereby Rome imposed her spiritual dominion, the secular arm and palpable 

manifestation of Roman power. 

In return Clovis was granted the title of "Novus Constantinus' - "New 

Constantine'. In other words, he was to preside over a unified empire 

a "Holy Roman Empire' intended to succeed the one supposedly created 


Constantine and destroyed by the Visigoths and Vandals not long before. 

According to one modern expert of the period, Clovis, prior to his 

baptism, was 'fortified .. . with visions of an empire in succession to 

that of 

Rome, which should be the inheritance of the Merovingian race. "9 

According to another modern writer, "Clovis must now become a kind of western emperor, 

a patriarch to the western Germans, reigning over, though not governing, all peoples and 

kings. " 

The pact between Clovis and the Roman Church, in short, was one of 

momentous consequence to Christendom not only the Christendom of the 

time, but also the Christendom of the next millennium. Clovis's 

baptism was deemed to mark the birth of a new Roman empire a Christian 

empire, based on the Roman Church and administered, on the secular 

level, by the 

Merovingian bloodline. In other words, an indissoluble bond was 

established between church and state, each pledging allegiance to the 

other, each binding itself to the other in perpetuity. In ratification 

of this bond, in 496, Clovis allowed himself to be formally baptised by 

Saint Remy at 

Rheims. At the climax of the ceremony, Saint Remy pronounced his famous words: 

Mitis depone colla, Sicamber, adora quod incendisti, incendi quod adorasti. 

(Bow thy head humbly, Sicambrian, revere what thou hast burned and what 


thou hast revered.) It is important to note that Clovis's baptism was 

not a coronation as historians sometimes suggest. The Church did not 

make Clovis a king. He was already that, and all the Church could do 

was recognise him as such. By virtue of so doing, the Church 

officially bound itself not to Clovis alone, but to his successors as 

well not to a single individual, but to a bloodline. In this respect 

the pact resembled the covenant which God, in the Old Testament, makes 

with King David a pact which can be modified, as in Solomon's case, but 

not revoked, broken or betrayed. And the 

Merovingians did not lose sight of the parallel. 

During the remaining years of his life Clovis fully realised Rome's 

ambitious expectations of him. With irresistible efficiency, faith was 

imposed by the sword; and with the sanction and spiritual mandate of 


Church, the Frankish kingdom expanded to both east and south, 

encompassing most of modern France and much of modern Germany. Among 

Clovis's numerous adversaries the most important were the Visigoths, 

who adhered to Arian 

Christianity. It was against the empire of the Visigoths which 

straddled the Pyrenees and extended as far north as Toulouse that 

Clovis directed his most assiduous and concerted campaigns. In 507 he 

decisively defeated the Visigoths at the Battle of Vouille. Shortly 

thereafter Aquitaine and 

Toulouse fell into Frankish hands. The Visigoth empire north of the 

Pyrenees effectively collapsed before the Frankish ohslaught. From 

Toulouse, the Visigoths fell back to Carcassonne. Driven from Carcassonne, they 

established their capital, and last remaining bastion, in the Razes, at Rhedae now the 

village of Rennes-leChateau. 

Dagobert II 

In 51 1 Clovis died, and the empire he had created was divided, 

according to Merovingian custom, between his four sons. For more than 

a century thereafter the Merovingian dynasty presided over a number of 

disparate and often warring kingdoms, while lines of succession became 

increasingly tangled and claims to thrones increasingly confused. The 

authority once centralised in Clovis became progressively more diffuse, 


progressively Map 7 The Merovingian Kingdoms 




wColognc" — A ., 

- . Ruucn - - ~ _ ~MeezTr-j 

Pans ._ 



Touloum ='~PMaruJlcz~ 


more inchoate, and secular order deteriorated. Intrigues, 

machinations, kidnappings and political assassination became ever more commonplace. 

And the court chancellors, or "Mayors of the Palace', accumulated more and more power 

a factor which would eventually contribute to the fall of the dynasty. 

Bereft increasingly of authority the later Merovingian rulers have often been called "les rois 

faineant' - "the enfeebled kings'. Posterity has contemptuously stigmatised them as weak, 

ineffectual monarchs, effeminate and pliably helpless in the hands of cunning and wily 

counsellors. Our research revealed that this stereotype was not strictly accurate. It is true 

that the constant wars, vendettas and internecine strife thrust a number of Merovingian 

princes on to the throne at an extremely youthful age and they were thus easily 

manipulated by their advisers. But those who did attain manhood proved as strong and 

decisive as any of their predecessors. This certainly seems to have been the case with 

Dagobert II. 

Dagobert II was born in 653, heir to the kingdom of Austrasie. On his father's death in 656 

extravagant attempts were made to preclude his inheritance of the throne. Indeed 

Dagobert's early life reads like a medieval legend, or a fairy tale. But it is well 

documented history." 

On his father's death Dagobert was kidnapped by the presiding Mayor of 


Palace, an individual named Grimoald. Attempts to find the 

five-year-old child proved fruitless, and it was not difficult to 

convince the court that he was dead. On this basis Grimoald then 

engineered his own son's acquisition of the throne, claiming this had 

been the wish of the former monarch, Dagobert's deceased father. The 

ruse worked effectively. Even 

Dagobert's mother, believing her son dead, deferred to the ambitious Mayor of the Palace. 

However, Grimoald had apparently balked at actually murdering the young 

prince. In secret Dagobert had been confided to the charge of the 

bishop of 

Poitiers. The bishop, it seems, was equally reluctant to murder the child. 

Dagobert was therefore consigned to permanent exile in Ireland. He 

grew into manhood at the Irish monastery of Slane, '2 not far from 

Dublin; and here, at the school attached to the monastery, he received 


an education unobtainable in France at the time. At some point during 

this period he is supposed to have attended the court of the High King of Tara. 

And he is said to have made the acquaintance of three Northumbrian 

princes, also being educated at Slane. In 666, probably still in 

Ireland, Dagobert married Mathilde, a Celtic princess. Not long after 

he moved from Ireland to 

England, establishing residence at York, in the kingdom of Northumbria. Here he formed 

a close friendship with Saint Wilfrid, bishop of York, who became his mentor. 

During the period in question a schism still existed between the Roman 


Celtic Churches, with the latter refusing to acknowledge the former's 

authority. In the interests of unity Wilfrid was intent on bringing 


Celtic Church into the Roman fold. This he had already accomplished at the famous 

Council of Whitby in 664. But his subsequent friendship and patronage of Dagobert II may 

not have been devoid of ulterior motive. 


Dagobert's time Merovingian allegiance to Rome as dictated by the 

Church's pact with Clovis a century and a half before -was somewhat less fervent than it 

might have been. As a loyal adherent of Rome, Wilfrid was eager to consolidate Roman 

supremacy not only in Britain, but on the continent as well. Were Dagobert to return to 

France and reclaim the kingdom of Austrasie, it would have been expedient to ensure his 


Wilfrid may well have seen the exiled king as a possible future sword-arm of the Church. 

In 670 Mathilde, Dagobert's Celtic wife, died giving birth to her third daughter. Wilfrid 

hastened to arrange a new match for the recently bereft monarch, and in 671 Dagobert 

married for the second time. If his first alliance was of potential dynastic import, his 

second was even more so. 

Dagobert's new wife was Giselle de Razes, daughter of the count of 

Razes and niece of the king of the Visigoths. '3 In other words the 

Merovingian bloodline was now allied to the royal bloodline of the 

Visigoths. Herein lay the seeds of an embryonic empire which would 

have united much of modern 

France, extending from the Pyrenees to the Ardennes. Such an empire, moreover, would 

have brought the Visigoths still with strong Arian tendencies firmly under Roman control. 


When Dagobert married Giselle, he had already 2 The Merovingian 

Dynasty The Kings 

From the work of Henri Lobineau (Henri de Lenoncourt) 

Su mbrun ~ ~ Sahan Frank 


"a- fish leader King f Cambni m 477 438-48 

Followrd the MERO VEE 

Pagan h of The Young' 

Uuna of the King of Franks of Yswl 

At o( the nine 448- 58 fin," 

CHILD ERIC 11 Hogra 

King of Franks of Yswl ducowtedwur 458-96 Toamai m 1653 


(pagan) 456-51 1 St. Remi(Chnrrun) 

King of she Franks24.12.496tit of Icing of Burgundy 


Auurasia King of OrleansKmj of Pansm. AmalncKing of Soisrons 51 1-34 

51 1 -2451 1 -.58King of VisiBoths51 1 -58 

King of the Frwcs 4 other children 

SIGISBERT ICHILPERIC 1 =GALESWINTHE (sixer of Bounehaut) King f 

Aussrasia 561-84 561-75 King of SoiswnsFREDEGONDE B.-hut d. of Visigoth 

King rtomarciil CLOTn B=Fm 3 

SIGONIUS 584-628 

of she Francs Prefect of the Gauls DAGO BERT I- 5 wives 

V,vgorh 602-38 

King f Ausrcasia 622 

TULCA SERA lANNEMUNDUSKing of the Fnolcs 630 lu Count of O.aass Bishop 

of Lyons 653 King g of Visigoth, d. 642 IMMACHILDE -SIGISBERT BIBATILDE 


King of Aussrasia 632 1633-56 

GISLICA-BERA11 629-56 

r of Wamba, Count of Rash Kmg of Vistgoshs I from 6J I 




671 King of Austrasia 674I ("ISELLE DE RAZESA A s."by unde rl 653-76 f 

Pew,rlie Fin'l 

CHILD ERIC m Depored 751 Peps the Shon', 

SIGI$BERT Iv ho uwrped htmse wnh the 676-758 P~ Count of RAZ2a (FaA~ A of Ch' of th, 

Idmr 11) 

Hast known Merovingaai 


Lt. continua ire turned to the continent. According to existing 

documentation, the marriage was celebrated at Giselle's official 

residence of Rhedae, or 

Rennes-leChateau. Indeed, the marriage was reputedly celebrated in the 

church of Saint Madeleine the structure on the site of which Berenger 

Sauniere's church was subsequently erected. 

Dagobert's first marriage had produced three daughters but no male 

heir. By 

Giselle, Dagobert had two more daughters and at last, in 676, one son the infant Sigisbert 

IV. And by the time Sigisbert was born, Dagobert was once more a king. 

For some three years he seems to have bided his time at 

Rennes-leChateau, watching the vicissitudes of his domains to the 

north. Finally, in 674, the opportunity had presented itself. With 

the support of his mother and her advisers, the long-exiled monarch 

announced himself, reclaimed his realm and was officially proclaimed 

king of Austrasie. Wilfrid of York was instrumental in his 

reinstatement. According to Gerard de Sede, so too was a much more 

elusive, much more mysterious figure, about whom there is little 

historical information Saint Amatus, bishop of Sion in 

Switzerland. '4 

Once restored to the throne, Dagobert was no roi faineant. On the 

contrary, he proved to be a worthy successor to Clovis. At once he set 

about asserting and consolidating his authority, taming the anarchy 

that prevailed throughout Austrasie and re-establishing order. He 

ruled firmly, breaking the control of various rebellious nobles who had 

mobilised sufficient military and economic power to challenge the 

throne. And at 

Rennes-leChateau he is said to have amassed a substantial treasury. These resources 

were to be used to finance the reconquest of Aquitaine,"5 which had seceded from 

Merovingian hands some forty years previously and declared itself an independent 


At the same time Dagobert must have been a severe disappointment to 

Wilfrid of York. If Wilfrid had expected him to be a sword-arm of the 


Dagobert proved nothing of the sort. On the contrary he seems to have 

curbed attempted expansion on the part of the Church within his realm, 

and thereby incurred ecclesiastical displeasure. A letter from an 



Frankish prelate to Wilfrid exists, condemning Dagobert for levying 

taxes, for "scorning the churches of God together with their bishops' 


Nor was this the only respect in which Dagobert seems to have run foul 


Rome. By virtue of his marriage to a Visigoth princess he had acquired 

considerable territory in what is now the Languedoc. He may also have 

acquired something else. The Visigoths were only nominally loyal to 


Roman Church. In fact their allegiance to Rome was extremely tenuous, and a tendency 

towards Arianism still obtained in the royal family. There is evidence to suggest that 

Dagobert absorbed something of this tendency. 

By 679, after three years on the throne, Dagobert had made a number of 

powerful enemies, both secular and ecclesiastic. By curbing their 

rebellious autonomy, he had incurred the hostility of certain 

vindictive nobles. By thwarting its attempted expansion, he had roused 

the antipathy of the Church. By establishing an effective and 

centralised regime, he had provoked the envy and alarm of other 

Frankish potentates the rulers of adjacent kingdoms. Some of these 

rulers had allies and agents within 

Dagobert's realm. One such was the king's own Mayor of the Palace, Pepin the Fat. And 

Pepin, clandestinely aligning himself with Dagobert's political foes, did not shrink from 

either treachery or assassination. 

Like most Merovingian rulers, Dagobert had at least two capital cities. 

The most important of these was Stenay," on the fringe of the Ardennes. 

Near the royal palace at Stenay stretched a heavily wooded expanse, 

long deemed sacred, called the Forest of Woevres. It was in this 

forest, on December 23 rd , 679, that Dagobert is said to have gone 

hunting. Given the date, the hunt may well have been a ritual occasion 

of some sort. In any case, what followed evokes a multitude of 

archetypal echoes, including the murder of 

Siegfried in the Nibelungenlied. 

Towards midday, succumbing to fatigue, the king lay down to rest beside 

a stream, at the foot of a tree. While he slept, one of his servants. 

supposedly his godson stole furtively up to him and, acting under 

Pepin's orders, pierced him with a lance through the eye. The 

murderers then returned to Stenay, intent on exterminating the rest of 


the family in residence there. How successful they were in this 

latter undertaking is not clear. But there is no question that the reign of Dagobert and his 

family came to an abrupt and violent end. Nor did the Church waste much time grieving. 

On the contrary, it promptly endorsed the actions of the king's assassins. There is even a 

letter from a Frankish prelate to Wilfrid of York, which attempts to rationalise and justify 

the regicide." 

Dagobert's body and posthumous status both underwent a curious number 

of vicissitudes. Immediately after his death, he was buried at Stenay, 

in the 

Royal Chapel of Saint Remy. In 872 nearly two centuries later he was 

exhumed and moved to another church. This new church became the Church 


Saint Dagobert, for in the same year the dead king was canonised not by 

the pope (who did not claim this right exclusively until 1 159), but by 


Metropolitan Conclave. The reason for Dagobert's canonisation remains unclear. 

According to one source, it was because his relics were believed to have preserved the 

vicinity of Stenay against Viking raids though this explanation begs the question, for it is 

not clear why the relics should have possessed such powers in the first place. 

Ecclesiastical authorities seem embarrassingly ignorant concerning the matter. They 

admit that Dagobert, for some reason, became the object of a fully fledged cult and had 

his own feast day December 23 rd , the anniversary of his death. "9 But they seem utterly at 

a loss as to why he should have been so exalted. It is possible, of course, that the Church 

felt guilty about its role in the king's death. Dagobert's canonisation may therefore have 

been an attempt to make amends. If so, however, there is no indication of why such a 

gesture should have been deemed necessary, nor why it should have had to wait for two 


Stenay, the Church of Saint Dagobert and perhaps the relics it 

contained were all accorded great significance by a number of 

illustrious figures in the centuries that followed. In 1069, for 

example, the duke of Lorraine -Godfroi de Bouillon's grandfather 

accorded special protection to the church and placed it under the 

auspices of the near-by Abbey of Gorze. Some years later the church 

was appropriated by a local nobleman. In 1093 

Godfroi de Bouillon mobilised an army and subjected Stenay to a 


full-scale siege for the sole purpose, it would appear, of regaining 

the church and returning it to the Abbey of Gorze. 

During the French Revolution, the church was destroyed and the relics 


Saint Dagobert, like so many others throughout France, were dispersed. 

Today a ritually incised skull said to be Dagobert's is in the custody of a convent at Mons. 

All other relics of the king have disappeared. 

But in the mid-nineteenth century a most curious document came to 

light. It was a poem, a twenty one verse litany, entitled "De sancta 

Dagoberto mar tyre prose' implying that Dagobert was martyred to, or 

for, something. This poem is believed to date from at least the Middle 

Ages, possibly much earlier. Significantly enough, it was found at the 

Abbey of Orval.z 

The Usurpation by the Carolingians 

Strictly speaking Dagobert was not the last ruler of the Merovingian dynasty. In fact 

Merovingian monarchs retained at least . nominal status for another three quarters of a 

century. But these last Merovingians did warrant the appellation of rois faineants. Many 

of them were extremely young. In consequence they were often weak, helpless pawns in 

the hands of the Mayors of the Palace, incapable of asserting their authority or of making 

decisions of their own. They were really little more than victims; and more than a few 

became sacrifices. 

Moreover, the later Merovingians were of cadet branches, not scions of the main line 

descended from Clovis and Merovee. The main line of Merovingian descent had been 

deposed with Dagobert II. To all intents and purposes, therefore, Dagobert's 

assassination may be regarded as signalling the end of the Merovingian dynasty. When 

Childeric III died in 754, it was a mere formality so far as dynastic power was concerned. 

As rulers of the Franks the Merovingian bloodline had been effectively extinct long before. 

As power seeped from the hands of the Merovingians, it passed into the 

hands of the Mayors of the Palace a process that had already commenced 

before Dagobert's reign. It was a Mayor of the Palace. Pepin the Fat, 


who engineered Dagobert's death. And Pepin the Fat was followed by 

his son, the famous Charles Martel. 

In the eyes of posterity Charles Martel is one of the most heroic figures in French history. 

There is certainly some basis for the acclaim given him. 

Under Charles the Moorish invasion of France was checked at the Battle 


Poitiers in 732; and Charles, by virtue of this victory, was, in some sense, both "defender 

of the Faith' and "saviour of Christendom'. What is curious is that Charles Martel, strong 

man though he was, never seized the throne -which certainly lay within his grasp. In fact 

he seems to have regarded the throne with a certain superstitious awe and, in all 

probability, as a specifically Merovingian prerogative. Certainly Charles's successors, 

who did seize the throne, went out of their way to establish their legitimacy by marrying 

Merovingian princesses. 

Charles Martel died in 741 . Ten years later his son, Pepin III, Mayor 

of the Palace to King Childeric III, enlisted the support of the Church 

in laying formal claim to the throne. "Who should be king?" Pepin's 

ambassadors asked the pope. "The man who actually holds power, or he, 

Pepin's favour. By apostolic authority he ordered that Pepin be 

created king of the Franks a brazen betrayal of the pact ratified with 

Clovis two and a half centuries before. Thus endorsed by Rome, Pepin 

deposed Childeric 

III, confined the king to a monastery and to humiliate him, to deprive him of his "magical 

powers' or both had him shorn of his sacred hair. 

Four years later Childeric died, and Pepin's claim to the throne was undisputed." 

A year before a crucial document had conveniently made its appearance, 

which subsequently altered the course of Western history. This 

document was called the "Donation of Constantine'. Today there is no 

question that it was a forgery, concocted and not very skilfully within 

the papal 

Chancery. At the time, however, it was deemed genuine, and its influence was enormous. 

The "Donation of Constantine' purported to date from Constantine's 

alleged conversion to Christianity in A.D. 312. According to the 


Constantine had officially given to the bishop of Rome his imperial symbols and regalia, 

which thus became the Church's property. 


The "Donation' further alleged that Constantine, for the first time, 

had declared the bishop of Rome to be "Vicar of Christ' and offered him the status of 

emperor. In his capacity as "Vicar of Christ' the bishop had supposedly returned the 

imperial regalia to Constantine, who wore them subsequently with ecclesiastical sanction 

and permission more or less in the manner of a loan. 

The implications of this document are clear enough. According to the 

"Donation of Constantine', the bishop of Rome exercised supreme secular as well as 

supreme spiritual authority over Christendom. He was, in effect, a papal emperor, who 

could dispose as he wished of the imperial crown, who could delegate his power or any 

aspect thereof as he saw fit. In other words he possessed, through Christ, the un 

challengeable right to create or depose kings. It is from the "Donation of Constantine' that 

the subsequent power of the Vatican in secular affairs ultimately derives. 

Claiming authority from the "Donation of Constantine', the Church deployed its influence 

on behalf of Pepin III. It devised a ceremony whereby the blood of usurpers, or anyone 

else for that matter, could be made sacred. 

This ceremony came to be known as coronation and anointment as those terms were 

understood during the Middle Ages and on into the Renaissance. 

At Pepin's coronation, bishops for the first time were authorised to attend, with rank equal 

to that of secular nobles. And the coronation itself no longer entailed the recognition of a 

king, or a pact with a king. 

It now consisted of nothing less than the creation of a king. 

The ritual of anointment was similarly transformed. In the past, when practised at all, it 

was a ceremonial accoutrement an act of recognition and ratification. Now, however, it 

assumed a new significance. Now it took precedence over blood, and could "magically', 

as it were, sanctify blood. 

Anointment became something more than a symbolic gesture. It became the literal act 

whereby divine grace was conferred upon a ruler. And the pope, by performing this act, 

became supreme mediator between God and kings. 

Through the ritual of anointment, the Church arrogated to itself the 

right to make kings. Blood was now subordinate to oil. And all 


monarchs were rendered ultimately subordinate, and subservient, to the 


In 754 Pepin III was officially anointed at Ponthion, thus inaugurating 


Carolingian dynasty. The name derives from Charles Martel, although it is generally 

associated with the most famous of Carolingian rulers, Charles the Great, Carolus 

Magnus or, as he is best known, Charlemagne. 

And in 800 

Charlemagne was proclaimed Holy Roman Emperor a title which, by virtue of the pact with 

Clovis three centuries before, should have been reserved exclusively for the Merovingian 

bloodline. Rome now became the seat of an empire that embraced the whole of Western 

Europe, whose rulers ruled only with the sanction of the pope. 

In 496 the Church had pledged itself in perpetuity to the Merovingian bloodline. In 

sanctioning the assassination of Dagobei't, in devising the ceremonies of coronation and 

anointment, in endorsing Pepin's claim to the throne, it had clandestinely betrayed its pact. 

In crowning Charlemagne it had made its betrayal not only public, but a fait accompli. In 

the words of one modern authority: 

We cannot therefore be sure that the anointing with chrism of the 

Carolingians was intended to compensate for the loss of magical 

properties of the blood symbolised by long hair. If it compensated for 

anything, it was probably for loss of faith incurred in breaking an 

oath of fidelity in a particularly shocking way.zz 

And again, "Rome showed the way by providing in unction a king-making 

rite that somehow cleared the consciences of "all the Franks". '23 

Not all consciences, however. The usurpers themselves seem to have felt, if not a sense 

of guilt, at least an acute need to establish their legitimacy. 

To this end Pepin III, immediately before his anointment, had ostentatiously married a 

Merovingian princess. And Charlemagne did likewise. 

Charlemagne, moreover, seems to have been painfully aware of the 

betrayal involved in his coronation. According to contemporary 

accounts, the coronation was a carefully stage-managed affair, 

engineered by the pope behind the Frankish monarch's back; and 

Charlemagne appears to have been both surprised and profoundly 


embarrassed. A crown of some sort had already been clandestinely 


Charlemagne had been lured to Rome and there persuaded to attend a 

special mass. When he took his place in the church, the pope, without 

warning, placed a crown upon his head, while the populace acclaimed him 

as "Charles, 

Augustus, crowned by God, the great and peace-loving emperor of the Romans'. 

In the words of a chronicler writing at the time, Charlemagne "made it 

clear that he would not have entered the Cathedral that day at all, 

although it was the greatest of all festivals of the Church, if he had 

known in advance what the Pope was planning to do. '24 

But whatever Charlemagne's responsibility in the affair, the pact 


Clovis and the Merovingian bloodline had been shamelessly betrayed. 

And all our inquiries indicated that this betrayal, even though it 

occurred more than 1100 years ago, continued to rankle for the Prieure 

de Sion. Mathieu 

Paoli, the independent researcher quoted in the preceding chapter, reached a similar 


For them [the Prieure de Sion], the only authentic nobility is the 

nobility of Visigothic/Merovingian origin. The Carolingians, then all 

others, are but usurpers. In effect, they were but functionaries of 

the king, charged with administering lands who, after transmitting by 

heredity their right to govern these lands, then purely and simply 

seized power for themselves. In consecrating Charlemagne in the year 

800, the Church perjured itself, for it had concluded, at the baptism 

of Clovis, an alliance with the 

Merovingians which had made France the eldest daughter of the Church." 

The Exclusion of Dagobert II from History 

With the murder of Dagobert II in 679 the Merovingian dynasty 

effectively ended. With the death of Childeric III in 755 the 

Merovingians seemed to vanish from the stage of world history 

completely. According to the "Prieure documents', however, the 

Merovingian bloodline in fact survived. According to the "Prieure 

documents', it was perpetuated to the present day, from the infant 


Sigisbert IV Dagobert's son by his second wife, Giselle de Razes.There is no question that 

Sigisbert existed and that he was Dagobert's heir. According to all sources other than the 

"Prieure documents', however, it is unclear what happened to him. Certain chroniclers 

have tacitly assumed that he was murdered along with his father and other members of 

the royal family. One highly dubious account asserts that he died in a hunting accident a 

year or two before his father's death. If that is true Sigisbert must have been a precocious 

hunter, for he cannot possibly have been much more than three years old at the time. 

There is no record whatever of Sigisbert's death. Nor is there any 

record apart from the evidence in the "Prieure documents' of his 

survival. The whole issue seems to have been lost in "the mists of 

time', and no one seems to have been much concerned about it except, of 

course, for the 

Prieure de Sion. In any case Sion appeared to be privy to certain information which was 

not available elsewhere; or was deemed of too little consequence to warrant much 

investigation; or was deliberately suppressed. 

It is hardly surprising that no account of Sigisbert's fate has been 

filtered down to us. There was no publicly accessible account even 


Dagobert until the seventeenth century. At some point during the 


Ages a systematic attempt was apparently made to erase Dagobert from 

history, to deny that he ever existed. Today Dagobert II can be found 

in any encyclopedia. Until 1646, however, there was no acknowledgment 

whatever that he had ever lived. zs Any list or genealogy of French 

rulers compiled before 1646 simply omits him, jumping (despite the 

flagrant inconsistency) from Dagobert I to Dagobert III one of the 


Merovingian monarchs, who died in 715. And not until 1655 was Dagobert II reinstated in 

accepted lists of French kings. Given this process of eradication, we were not unduly 

astonished at the dearth of information relating to Sigisbert. And we could not but suspect 

that whatever information did exist had been deliberately suppressed. 

But why, we wondered, should Dagobert II have been excised from history? 

What was being concealed by such an excision? Why should one wish to 

deny the very existence of a man? One possibility, of course, is to 

negate thereby the existence of his heirs. If Dagobert never lived, 


Sigisbert cannot have lived either. But why should it have been 

important, as late as the seventeenth century, to deny that Sigisbert had ever lived? 

Unless he had indeed survived, and his descendants were still regarded as a threat. 

It seemed to us that we were clearly dealing with some sort of 'cover-up'. 

Quite patently there were vested interests which had something of import to lose if 

knowledge of Sigisbert's survival were made public. In the ninth century and perhaps as 

late as the Crusades, these interests would seem to have been the Roman Church and 

the French royal line. But why should the issue have continued to matter as late as the 

age of Louis XIV? It would surely have been an academic point by then, for three French 

dynasties had come and gone, while Protestantism had broken Roman hegemony. 

Unless there was indeed something very special about the Merovingian blood. Not 

'magical properties', but something else -something that retained its explosive potency 

even after superstitions about magical blood had fallen by the wayside. 

Prince Guillem de Gellone, Comte de Razes 

According to the "Prieure documents', Sigisbert IV, on the death of his 

father, was rescued by his sister and smuggled southwards to the domain 

of his mother the Visigoth princess, Giselle de Razes. He is said to 

have arrived in the Languedoc in 681 and, at some point shortly 

thereafter, to have adopted or inherited his uncle's titles, duke of 

Razes and count of 

Rhedae. He is also said to have adopted the surname, or nickname, of "Plant-Ard' 

(subsequently Plantard) from the appellation 'rejeton ardent' 'ardently flowering shoot' of 

the Merovingian vine. Under this name, and under the titles acquired from his uncle, he is 

said to have perpetuated his lineage. And by 886 one branch of that lineage is said to 

have culminated in a certain Bernard Plantavelu apparently derived from Plant-and or 

Plantard whose son became the first duke of Aquitaine. 

As far as we could ascertain, no independent historian either confirmed 


or disputed these assertions. The whole matter was simply ignored. But the circumstantial 

evidence argued persuasively that Sigisbert did indeed survive to perpetuate his lineage. 

The assiduous eradication of Dagobert from history lends credence to 

this conclusion. By denying his existence, any line of descent from 

him would have been invalidated. This constitutes a motive for an 

otherwise inexplicable action. Among the other fragments of evidence 

is a charter, dated 718, which pertains to the foundation of a 

monastery a few miles from Rennes-leChateau by "Sigebert, Comte de 

Rhedae and his wife, 

Magdala'.z' Apart from this charter nothing is heard of the Rhedae or Razes titles for 

another century. When one of them reappears, however, it does so in an extremely 

interesting context. 

By 742 there was an independent and fully autonomous state in the south 


France a princedom according to some accounts, a fully fledged kingdom according to 

others. Documentation is sketchy and history is vague about it most historians, in fact, are 

unaware of its existence but there is no question of its reality. It was officially recognised 

by Charlemagne and his successors, and by the caliph of Baghdad and the Islamic world. 

It was grudgingly recognised by the Church, some of whose lands it confiscated. 

And it survived until the late ninth century. 

Sometime between 759 and 768 the ruler of this state -which included 


Razes and Rennes-leChateau was officially pronounced a king. Despite 

Rome's disapprobation, he was recognised as such by the Carolingians, to whom he 

pledged himself as vassal. In existing accounts he figures most frequently under the 

name of Theodoric, or Thierry. And most modern scholars regard him as being of 

Merovingian descent .z8 There is no definitive evidence from where such descent might 

have derived. It might well have derived from Sigisbert. In any case, there is no question 

that by 790 Theodoric's son, Guillem de Gellone, held the title of count of Razes the title 

Sigisbert is said to have possessed and passed on to his descendants. 

Guillem de Gellone was one of the most famous men of his time, so much 

so, indeed, that his historical reality -like that of Charlemagne and 

Godfroi de Bouillon has been obscured by legend. Before the epoch of 



Crusades, there were at least six major epic poems composed about him, 

chansons de gqste similar to the famous Chanson de 

Roland. In The Divine Comedy Dante accorded him a uniquely exalted status. 

But even before Dante, Guillem had again become an object of literary 

attention. In the early thirteenth century he figured as the 

protagonist of 

Willehalm, an unfinished epic romance composed by Wolfram von Eschenbach whose 

most famous work, Parzival, is probably the most important of all romances dealing with 

the mysteries of the Holy Grail. 

It seemed to us somewhat curious at first that Wolfram -all of whose 

other work deals with the Grail, the "Grail family' and the lineage of 

the "Grail family' should suddenly devote himself to so radically 

different a theme as Guillem de 

Gellone. On the other hand, Wolfram stated in another poem that the "Grail castle', abode 

of the "Grail family', was situated in the Pyrenees in what, at the beginning of the ninth 

century, was Guillem de Gellone's domain. 

Guillem maintained a close rapport with Charlemagne. His sister, in fact, was married to 

one of Charlemagne's sons, thus establishing a. dynastic link with the imperial blood. And 

Guillem himself was one of Charlemagne's most important commanders in the incessant 

warfare against the Moors. In 803, shortly after Charlemagne's coronation as Holy 

Roman Emperor, Guillem captured Barcelona, doubling his own territory and extending 

his influence across the Pyrenees. So grateful was Charlemagne for his services that his 

principality was confirmed by the emperor as a permanent institution. The charter ratifying 

this has been lost or destroyed, but there is abundant testimony to its existence. 

Independent and unimpugnable authorities have provided detailed 

genealogies of Guillem de Gellone's line his family and descendants. z9 

These sources, however, provide no indication of Guillem's antecedents, 

except for his father, Theodoric. In short, the real origins of the 

family were shrouded in mystery. And contemporary scholars and 

historians are generally somewhat puzzled about the enigmatic 

appearance, as if by spontaneous combustion, of so influential a noble 

house. But one thing, at any rate, is certain. By 886 the line of 

Guillem de Gellone culminated in a certain Bernard 


Plantavelu, who established the duchy of Aquitaine. In other words 

Guillem's line culminated in precisely the same individual as the line ascribed by the 

"Prieur6 documents' to Sigisbert IV and his descendants. 

We were tempted, of course, to jump to conclusions, and use the 

genealogies in the "Prieur6 documents' to bridge the gap left by 

accepted history. We were tempted to assume that the elusive 

progenitors of Guillem de Gellone were Dagobert II, and Sigisbert IV 

and the main line of the deposed 

Merovingian dynasty the line cited in the "Prieur6 documents' under the name Plant-Ard or 


Unfortunately we could not do so. Given the confused state of existing records, we could 

not definitively establish the precise connection between the Plantard line and the line of 

Guillem de Gellone. They might indeed have been one and the same. On the other hand, 

they might have intermarried at some point. What remained certain, however, was that 

both lines, by 886, had culminated in Bernard Plantavelu and the dukes of Aquitaine. 

Although they did not always match precisely in dating and translation of names, the 

genealogies connected with Guillem de Gellone did constitute a certain independent 

confirmation for the genealogies in the "Prieur6 documents'. We could thus tentatively 

accept, in the absence of any contradictory evidence, that the Merovingian bloodline did 

continue, more or less as the "Prieur6 documents' maintained. We could tentatively 

accept that Sigisbert did survive his father's murder, did adopt the family name of Plantard 

and, as count of Razes, did perpetuate his father's lineage. 

Prince Ursus 

By 886, of course, the "flowering shoot of the Merovingian vine' had blossomed into a 

large and complicated family tree. Bernard Plantavelu and the dukes of Aquitaine 

constitute one branch. There were other branches as well. Thus the "Prieur6 documents' 

declare that Sigisbert IV's grandson, Sigisbert VI, was known by the name of "Prince 


Between 877 and 879 "Prince Ursus' is said to have been officially 

proclaimed "King Ursus'. Aided by two nobles Bernard dAuvergne and 


the marquis of Gothic he is said to have undertaken an insurrection 

against Louis II of France in an attempt to regain his rightful heritage. 

Independent historians confirm that such an insurrection did indeed occur between 877 

and 879. These same historians refer to Bernard dAuvergne and the marquis of Gothic. 

The leader, or instigator, of the insurrection is not specifically named as Sigisbert VI. But 

there are references to an individual known as "Prince Ursus'. Moreover, "Prince Ursus' is 

known to have been involved in a curious and elaborate ceremony in Nimes, at which five 

hundred assembled ecclesiastics chanted the Te Deum.3 From all accounts of it, this 

ceremony would seem to have been a coronation. It may well have been the coronation 

to which the "Prieure documents' alluded the proclamation of "Prince Ursus' as king. 

Once again, the "Prieure documents' received independent support. Once 

again, they seemed to draw on information unobtainable elsewhere 

information which supplemented and sometimes even helped explain 

caesuras in accepted history. In this case, they had apparently told 

us who the elusive "Prince Ursus' actually was -the lineal descendant, 


Sigisbert IV, of the murdered Dagobert II. And the insurrection, of 

which historians had hitherto made no sense, could now be seen as a 

perfectly comprehensible attempt by the deposed Merovingian dynasty to 

regain its heritage the heritage conferred upon it by Rome through the 

pact with 

Clovis, and then subsequently betrayed. 

According to both the "Prieure documents' and independent sources, the 

insurrection failed, "Prince Ursus' and his supporters being defeated 

at a battle near Poitiers in 881 . With this setback, the Plantard 

family is said to have lost its possessions in the south of France 

although it still clung to the now purely titular status of duke of 

Rhedae and count of 

Razes. "Prince Ursus' is said to have died in Brittany, while his line 

became allied by marriage with the Breton ducal house. By the late 

ninth century, then, the Merovingian blood had flowed into the duchies 

of both 

Brittany and Aquitaine. 

In the years that followed, the family including Alain, later duke of 

Brittany is said to have sought refuge in England, establishing an 


English branch called "Planta'. 3 The Merovingian Dynasty The Counts 

of Rues 

From Henri Lobineau's work, based on work by Abbe Pichon and Dr. 


Sourer Sourer I Mrmvmgun I I Vth I 


7.d4,ehrcr of Sams Wdfnd of Yo r4 Lrvm" r Adar 




Coum f Razbs 

"Ardenr Shooi. Nrw sour . Ned "Les ~lam-Ard Cahlrd 71 sT HMmrt 

Princes' brcauu 'hr' uMr. rtfuge n rhr A vms hill Rl Mae dung hr 

SI("ISBERT V5anan mvauon. Thr carted rombuonr 695/698 - 767/768 

ofrhert common gray oday m rhr 

Coum of Razesarum ar Rmnrs-k-Charra~ 


(Alda?i 715-70 

Count of Razes 

7 marnagcs GUILLAUMEOLIBA 0~unry( Rax2s 

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authorities again confirm that Alain, his family and entourage, fled 

from the Vikings to England. According to the "Prieure documents', one 

of the English branch of the family, listed as Bera VI, was nicknamed 


Architect'. He and his descendants, having found a haven in England 


King Athelstan, are said to have practised 'the art of building' - a 

seemingly enigmatic reference. Interestingly enough, Masonic sources 

date the origin of Freemasonry in England from the reign of King 


Could the Merovingian bloodline, we wondered, in addition to its claim 

to the French throne, be in some way connected with something at the 

core of 


The Grail Family 

The Middle Ages abound with a mythology as rich and resonant as those of ancient 

Greece and Rome. Some of this mythology pertains, although wildly exaggerated in form, 

to actual historical personages to Arthur, to Roland and Charlemagne, to Rodrigo Diaz of 

Vivar, popularly known as El Cid. Other myths like those relating to the Grail, for example 

would seem at first to rest on a more tenuous foundation. 

Among the most popular and evocative of medieval myths is that of 

Lohengrin, the "Swan Knight'. On the one hand it is closely linked with the fabulous Grail 

romances; on the other it cites specific historical personages. In its mingling of fact and 

fantasy it may well be unique. And through such works as Wagner's opera it continues to 

exert its archetypal appeal even today. 

According to medieval accounts, Lohengrin sometimes called Helias, 

implying solar associations was a scion of the elusive and mysterious 

"Grail family'. In Wolfram von Eschenbach's poem, he is in fact the 

son of 

Parzival, the supreme' Knight of the Grail'. One day, in the sacred 

temple or castle of the Grail at Munsalvaesche, Lohengrin is said to 

have heard the chapel bell tolling without the intervention of human 

hands a signal that his aid was urgently required somewhere in the 

world. It was required, predictably enough, by a damsel in distress 


the duchess of Brabant32 according to some sources, the duchess of 

Bouillon according to others. The lady desperately needed a champion, and Lohengrin 

hastened to her rescue in a boat drawn by heraldic swans. In single combat he defeated 

the duchess's persecutor, then married the lady. At their nuptials, however, he issued a 

stringent warning. Never was his bride to query him about his origins or ancestry, his 

background or the place whence he came. And for some years the lady obeyed her 

husband's edict. At last, however, goaded to fatal curiosity by the scurrilous insinuations 

of rivals, she presumed to ask the forbidden question. 

Thereupon, Lohengrin was compelled to depart, vanishing in his swan drawn boat into the 

sunset. And behind him, with his wife, he left a child of uncertain lineage. According to 

the various accounts, this child was either the father or the grandfather of Godfroi de 


It is difficult for the modern mind to appreciate the magnitude of 

Godfroi's status in popular consciousness -not only in his own time but 

even as late as the seventeenth century. Today, when one thinks of 


Crusades, one thinks of Richard Coeur de Lion, King John, perhaps Louis IX (Saint Louis) 

or Frederick Barbarossa. But until relatively recently, none of these individuals enjoyed 

Godfroi's prestige or acclaim. Godfroi, leader of the First Crusade, was the supreme 

popular hero, the hero par excellence. It was Godfroi who inaugurated the Crusades. It 

was Godfroi who captured Jerusalem from the Saracens. It was Godfroi who rescued 

Christ's sepulchre from infidel hands. It was Godfroi, above all others, who, in people's 

imaginations, reconciled the ideals of high chivalric enterprise and fervent Christian piety. 

Not surprisingly, therefore, Godfroi became the object of a cult which persisted long after 

his death. 

Given this exalted status, it is understandable that Godfroi should be 

credited with all manner of illustrious mythical pedigrees. It is even 

understandable that Wolfram von Eschenbach, and other medieval 

romanciers, should link him directly with the Grail should depict him 

as a lineal descendant of the mysterious "Grail family'. And such 

fabulous pedigrees are rendered even more comprehensible by the fact 

that Godfroi's true lineage is obscure. History remains uncomfortably 


uncertain about his ancestry.33 The Prieure documents' furnished us 

with the most plausible perhaps, indeed, the first plausible -genealogy of Godfroi de 

Bouillon that has yet come to light. As far as this genealogy could be checked and much 

of it could be it proved accurate. We found no evidence to contradict it, much to support it; 

and it convincingly bridged a number of perplexing historical gaps. 

According to the genealogy in the "Prieure documents', Godfroi de 

Bouillon by virtue of his great-grandmother, who married Hugues de 

Plantard in 1009 was a lineal descendant of the Plantard family. In 

other words 

Godfroi was of Merovingian blood, directly descended from Dagobert 


Sigisbert IV and the line of Merovingian "lost kings' - "les rois perdus'. 

For four centuries the Merovingian blood royal appears to have flowed through gnarled 

and numerous family trees. At last, through a process analogous to the grafting of vines 

in viticulture, it would seem to have borne fruit in Godfroi de Bouillon, Duke of Lorraine. 

And here, in the house of Lorraine, it established a new patrimony. 

This revelation cast a significant new light on the Crusades. We could 

now perceive the Crusades from a new perspective, and discern in them 

something more than the symbolic gesture of reclaiming Christ's 

supulchre from the 


In his own eyes, as well as those of his supporters, Godfroi would have been more than 

duke of Lorraine. He would, in fact, have been a rightful king a legitimate claimant of the 

dynasty deposed with Dagobert II in 679. But if Godfroi was a rightful king, he was also a 

king without a kingdom; and the Capetian dynasty in France, supported by the Roman 

Church, was by then too well entrenched to be dethroned. 

What can one do if one is a king without a kingdom? Perhaps find a 


Or create a kingdom. The most precious kingdom in the entire world 

Palestine, the Holy Land, the soil trodden by Jesus himself. Would not 

the ruler of such a kingdom be comparable to any in Europe? And would 

he not, in presiding over that most sacred of earthly sites, obtain 

sweet revenge on the Church which betrayed his ancestors four centuries 



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MATIEUOE- sTEP~EIB~EN d EII A I The Elusive Mystery 

Gradually certain pieces of the puzzle were beginning to fall into 

place. If 

Godfroi was of Merovingian blood, a number of seemingly disconnected fragments ceased 

to be disconnected and assumed a coherent continuity. 

We could thus explain the emphasis accorded such apparently disparate 

elements as the Merovingian dynasty and the Crusades, Dagobert II and 


RennesleChateau, the Knights Templar, the house of Lorraine, the 

Prieure de 

Sion. We could even trace the Merovingian bloodlines up to the present 

day to Alain Poher, to Henri de Montpezat (consort of the queen of 

Denmark), to Pierre Plantard de Saint-Clair, to Otto von Habsburg, 

titular duke of 

Lorraine and king of Jerusalem. 

And yet the really crucial question continued to elude us. We still could not see why the 

Merovingian bloodline should be so inexplicably important today. We still could not see 

why its claim should be in any way relevant to contemporary affairs, or why it should 

command the allegiance of so many distinguished men through the centuries. We still 

could not see why a modern Merovingian monarchy, however technically legitimate it 

might be, warranted such urgent endorsement. 


Quite clearly we were overlooking something. 10 The Exiled Tribe 

Could there be something special about the Merovingian bloodline something more than 

an academic, technical legitimacy? Could there really be something which, in some way, 

might genuinely matter to people today? Could there be something that might affect, 

perhaps even alter, existing social, political or religious institutions? These questions 

continued to nag at us. As yet, however, there appeared to be no answer to them. 

Once again we sifted through the compilation of "Prieure documents', and especially the 

all-important Dossiers secrets. We re-read passages which had meant nothing to us 

before. Now they made sense, but they did not serve to explain the mystery, nor to 

answer what had now become the critical questions. On the other hand there were other 

passages whose relevance was still unclear to us. These passages by no means 

resolved the enigma: but, if nothing else, they set us thinking along certain lines lines 

which eventually proved to be of paramount significance. 

As we had already discovered, the Merovingians themselves, according to 

their own chroniclers, claimed descent from ancient Troy. But 

according to certain of the "Prieure documents' the Merovingian 

pedigree was older than the siege of Troy. According to certain of the 

Prieure documents', the 

Merovingian pedigree could in fact be traced back to the Old Testament. 

Among the genealogies in the Dossiers secrets, for example, there were 

numerous footnotes and annotations. Many of these referred 

specifically to one of the twelve tribes of ancient Israel, the Tribe 

of Benjamin. One such reference cites, and emphasises, three Biblical 

passages -Deuteronomy 33, 

Joshua 1 8 and judges 20 and 21 . 

Deuteronomy 33 contains the blessing pronounced by Moses on the 


patriarchs of each of the twelve tribes. Of Benjamin, Moses says, 

"The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord 

shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his 

shoulders." (33:12) In other words Benjamin and his descendants were 

singled out for a very special and exalted blessing. That much, at any 

rate, was clear. We were, of course, puzzled by the promise of the 

Lord dwelling 'between Benjamin's shoulders'. Should we associate it 

with the legendary 

Merovingian birthmark the red cross between the shoulders? The 

connection seemed somewhat far-fetched. On the other hand, there were 

other clearer similarities between Benjamin in the Old Testament and 

the subject of our investigation. According to Robert Graves, for 

example, the day sacred to 

Benjamin was December 23 rd ' - Dagobert's feast day. Among the three clans which 

comprised the Tribe of Benjamin, there was the clan of Ahiram which might in some 

obscure way pertain to Hiram, builder of the Temple of Solomon and central figure in 

Masonic tradition. Hiram's most devoted disciple, moreover, was named Benoni; and 

Benoni, interestingly enough, was the name originally conferred upon the infant Benjamin 

by his mother, Rachel, before she died. 

The second Biblical reference in the Dossiers secrets, to Joshua 18, is 

rather more clear. It deals with the arrival of Moses's people in 


Promised Land and the apportionment to each of the twelve tribes of 

particular tracts of territory. According to this apportionment, the 

territory of the Tribe of Benjamin included what subsequently became 

the sacred city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, in other words, even before 

it became the capital of David and Solomon, was the allocated 

birthright of the Tribe of Benjamin. According to Joshua 18:28, the 

birthright of the Benjamites encompassed "Zelah, Eleph and Jebusi, 

which is Jerusalem, Gibeath and 

Kirjath; fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the children of 

Benjamin according to their families." 

The third Biblical passage cited by the Dossiers secrets involves a 

fairly complex sequipnce of events. A Levite, travelling through 

Benjamite territory, is assaulted, and his concubine ravished, by 

worshippers of 

Belial a variant of the Sumerian Mother Goddess, known as Ishtar by 


Babylonians and Astarte by the Phoenicians. 


Calling representatives of the twelve tribes to witness, the Levite 

demands vengeance for the atrocity; and at a council, the Benjamites are instructed to 

deliver the malefactors to justice. One might expect the Benjamites to comply readily. For 

some reason, however, they do not, and undertake, by force of arms, to protect the "sons 

of Belial'. 

The result is a bitter and bloody war between the Benjamites and the 

remaining eleven tribes. In the course of hostilities a curse is 

pronounced by the latter on any man who gives his daughter to a Beni 

amite. When the war is over, however, and the 

Benjamites virtually exterminated, the victorious Israelites repent of their malediction 

which, however, cannot be retracted: 

Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpeh, saying, There shall not any 

of us give his daughter unto Benjamin to wife. And the people came to 

the house of God, and abode there till even before God, and lifted up 

their voices, and wept sore; And said, O Lord God of Israel, why is 

this come to pass in 

Israel, that there should be today one tribe lacking in Isreal? 

(Judges 21:1-3) 

A few verses later, the lament is repeated: 

And the children of Israel repented them for Benjamin their brother, and said, There is one 

tribe cut off from Israel this day. How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing 

we have sworn by the Lord that we will not give them of our daughters to wives? (Judges 


And yet again: 

And the people repented them for Benjamin, because that the Lord had 

made a breach in the tribes of Israel. Then the elders of the 

congregation said, 

How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing the women are 

destroyed out of Benjamin? And they said, There must be an inheritance 

for them that be escaped out of Benjamin, that a tribe be not destroyed 

out of 

Israel. Howbeit we may not give them wives of our daughters: for the 

children of Israel have sworn, saying, Cursed be he that giveth a wife 


Benjamin. (Judges 21:15-18) 

Confronted by the possible extinction of an entire tribe, the elders 


quickly devise a solution. At Shiloh, in Bethel, there is to be a 

festival shortly; and the women of Shiloh -whose menfolk had remained neutral in the war 

are to be considered fair game. The surviving Benjamites are instructed to go to Shiloh 

and wait in ambush in the vineyards. When the women of the town congregate to dance 

in the forthcoming festival, the Benjamites are to pounce upon them and take them to wife. 

It is not at all clear why the Dossiers secrets insist on calling 

attention to this passage. But whatever the reason, the Benjamites, so 

far as 

Biblical history is concerned, are clearly important. Despite the devastation of the war, 

they quickly recover in prestige, if not in numbers. Indeed, they recover so well that in 1 

Samuel they furnish Israel with her first king, Saul. 

Whatever recovery the Benjamites may have made, however, the Dossiers 

secrets imply that the war over the followers of Belial was a crucial 

turning point. 1t would seem that in the wake of this conflict many, 

if not most, Benjamites went into exile. Thus, there is a portentous 

note in the 

Dossiers secrets, in capital letters: 





At first there appeared to be no connection between these apparent non 

sequiturs. When we assembled the diverse and fragmentary references in 


Dossiers secrets, however, a coherent story began to emerge. According 

to this account' most Benjamites did go into exile. Their exile 

supposedly took them to Greece, to the central Peloponnese to Arcadia, 

in short, where they supposedly became aligned with the Arcadian royal 

line. Towards the advent of the Christian era, they are then said to 

have migrated up the 

Danube and the Rhine, intermarrying with certain Teutonic tribes and eventually 

engendering the Sicambrian Franks the immediate forebears of the Merovingians. 

According to the "Prieure documents', then, the Merovingians were 

descended, via Arcadia, from the Tribe of Benjamin. In other words 


Merovingians, as well as their subsequent descendants the bloodlines 



Plantard and Lorraine, for example were ultimately of Map 8Judaea, 
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Semitic or Israelite origin. And if Jerusalem was indeed the 

hereditary birthright of the Benjamites, Godfroi de Bouillon, in 

marching on the Holy 

City, would in fact have been reclaiming his ancient and rightful heritage. 

Again it is significant that Godfroi, alone among the august Western princes who 

embarked on the First Crusade, disposed of all his property before his departure -implying 

thereby that he did not intend to return to Europe. 

Needless to say, we had no way of ascertaining whether the Merovingians were of 

Benjamite origin or not. The information in the "Prieure documents', such as it was, 

related to too remote; too obscure a past, for which no confirmation, no records of any sort 

could be obtained. 

But the assertions were neither particularly unique nor particularly 

new. On the countrary they had been around, in the form of vague 

rumours and nebulous traditions, for a long time. To cite but one 

instance, Proust draws upon them in his opus; and more recently, the 

novelist jean d'Ormesson suggests a Judaic origin for certain noble 

French families. And in 1965 Roger 

Peyrefitte, who seems to like scandal ising his countrymen, did so with resounding eclat in 

a novel affirming all French and most European nobility to be ultimately Judaic. 

In fact the argument, although unprovable, is not altogether 

implausible, nor are the exile and migration ascribed to the Tribe of 

Benjamin in the "Prieure documents'. The Tribe of Benjamin took up 

arms on behalf of the followers of Belial a form of the Mother Goddess 

often associated with images of a bull or calf. There is reason to 

believe that the Benjamites themselves revered the same deity. Indeed, 

it is possible that the worship of the Golden Calf in Exodus the 

subject, significantly enough, of one of 

Poussin's most famous paintings may have been a specifically Benjamite ritual. 

Following their war against the other eleven tribes of Israel, Benjamites fleeing into exile 

would, of necessity, have had to flee westwards, towards the Phoenician coast. The 

Phoenicians possessed ships capable of transporting large numbers of refugees. And 

they would have been obvious allies for fugitive Benjamites for they, too, worshipped the 

Mother Goddess in the form of Astarte, Queen of Heaven. 


If there was actually an exodus of Benjamites from Palestine, one 

might hope to find some vestigial record of it. In Greek myth one does. There is the 

legend of King Belus's son, one Danaus, who arrives in Greece, with his daughters, by 

ship. His daughters are said to have introduced the cult of the Mother Goddess, which 

became the established cult of the Arcadians. According to Robert Graves, the Danaus 

myth records the arrival in the Peloponnesus of "colonists from Palestine'." 

Graves states that King Belus is in fact Baal, or Bel or perhaps Belial 

from the Old 

Testament. It is also worthy of note that one of the clans of the 

Tribe of 

Benjamin was the clan of Bela. 

In Arcadia the cult of the Mother Goddess not only prospered but 

survived longer than in any other part of Greece. It became associated 

with worship of Demeter, then of Diana or Artemis. Known regionally as 

Arduina, Artemis became tutelary deity of the Ardennes; and it was from 

the Ardennes that the Sicambrian Franks first issued into what is now 

France. The totem of 

Artemis was the she-bear Kallisto, whose son was Arkas, the bear-child and patron of 

Arcadia. And Kallisto, transported to the heavens by Artemis, became the constellation 

Ursa Major, the Great Bear. There might thus be something more than coincidence in the 

appellation "Ursus', applied repeatedly to the Merovingian bloodline. 

In any case there is other evidence, apart from mythology, suggesting 


Judaic migration to Arcadia. In classical times the region known as 

Arcadia was ruled by the powerful, militaristic state of Sparta. The 

Spartans absorbed much of the older Arcadian culture; and indeed, the 


Arcadian Lycaeus may in fact be identified with Lycurgus, who 


Spartan Law. On reaching manhood, the Spartans, like the Merovingians, 

ascribed a special, magical significance to their hair which, like 


Merovingians, they wore long. According to one authority, "the length 

of hair denoted their physical vigour and became a sacred symbol. '4 

What is more, both books of Maccabees in the Apocrypha stress the link 


Spartans and Jews. Maccabees 2 speaks of certain Jews "having embarked 

to go to the Lacedaemonians, in hope of finding protection there 

because of their kinship. "5 And Maccabees 1 states explicitly, "It has 

been found in writing concerning the Spartans and the Jews that they 


are brethren and are of the family of Abraham. "6 We could thus 

acknowledge at least the possibility of a Judaic migration to 

Arcadia so that the "Prieure documents', if they could not be proved 

correct, could not be dismissed either. As for Semitic influence on 

Frankish culture, there was solid archaeological evidence. Phoenician 


Semitic trade routes traversed the whole of southern France, from Bordeaux to Marseilles 

and Narbonne. They also extended up the Rhone. As early as 700-600 B.C." there were 

Phoenician settlements not only along the French coast but inland as well, at such sites as 

Carcassonne and Toulouse. Among the artefacts found at these sites were many of 

Semitic origin. This is hardly surprising. In the ninth century B.C. the Phoenician kings of 

Tyre had intermarried with the kings of Israel and Judah, thus establishing a dynastic 

alliance that would have engendered a close contact between their respective peoples. 

The sack of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and the destruction of the Temple, 

prompted a massive exodus of Jews from the Holy Land. Thus the city 


Pompeii, buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79, included a Jewish community. 

Certain cities in southern France Aries, for example, Lunel and Narbonne provided a 

haven for Jewish refugees around the same time. 

And yet the influx of Judaic peoples into Europe, and especially 

France, predated the fall of Jerusalem in the first century. In fact 

it had been in progress from before the Christian era. Between 106 and 

48 B.C. a Jewish colony was established in Rome. Not long after 

another such colony was founded far up the Rhine, at Cologne. Certain 

Roman legions included contingents of Jewish slaves, who accompanied 

their masters all over 

Europe. Many of these slaves eventually won, purchased or, in some other fashion, 

obtained their freedom and formed communities. 

In consequence there are many specifically Semitic place names 

scattered about France. Some of them are situated squarely in the Old 

Merovingian heartland. A few kilometres from Stenay, for example, on 

the fringe of the 

Forest of Woevres where Dagobert was assassinated, there is a village 

called Baalon. Between Stenay and Orval, there is a town called 

Avioth. And the mountain of Sion in Lorraine "la colline inspiree' was 



Mount Semita." Again then, while we could not prove the claims in the 

"Prieure documents', we could not discount them either. Certainly there was enough 

evidence to render them at least plausible. We were compelled to acknowledge that the 

"Prieure documents' might be correct that the Merovingians, and the various noble 

families descended from them, might have stemmed from Semitic sources. 

But could this, we wondered, really be all there was to the story? Could this really be the 

portentous secret which had engendered so much fuss and intrigue, so much machination 

and mystery, so much controversy and conflict through the centuries? Merely another lost 

tribe legend? 

And even if it were not legend but true, could it really explain the 

motivation of the 

Prieure de Sion and the claim of the Merovingian dynasty? Could it 

really explain the adherence of men like Leonardo and Newton or the 

activities of the houses of Guise and Lorraine, the covert endeavours 

of the Compagnie du 

Saint-Sacrement, the elusive secrets of "Scottish Rite' Freemasonry? 

Obviously not. Why should descent from the Tribe of Benjamin 

constitute so explosive a secret? And, perhaps most crucially, why 

should descent from the Tribe of Benjamin matter today? How could it 

possibly clarify the 

Prieure de Sion's present-day activities and objectives? 

If our inquiry involved vested interests that were specifically Semitic 


Judaic, moreover, why did it involve so many components of a 

specifically, even fervently, Christian character? The pact between 

Clovis and the Roman 

Church, for example; the avowed Christianity of Godfroi de Bouillon and 

the conquest of Jerusalem; the heretical, perhaps, but none the less 

Christian thought of the Cathars and Knights Templar; pious 

institutions like the 

Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement; Freemasonry that was "Hermetic, aristocratic and 

Christian', and the implication of so many Christian ecclesiastics, from high ranking 

princes of the Church to local village cures like Boudet and Sauniere? 

It might be that the Merovingians were ultimately of Judaic origin, but 

if this were so it seemed to us essentially incidental. Whatever the 

real secret underlying our investigation it appeared to be inextricably 

associated not with Old Testament Judaism, but with Christianity. In 


short, the Tribe of Benjamin for the moment, at least -seemed to be a 

red herring. However important it might be, there was something of even greater 

importance involved. We were still overlooking something. 


Three The Bloodline 


11 The Holy Grail 

What might we have been overlooking? Or, alternatively, what might we have been 
seeking in the wrong place? Was there perhaps some fragment that had been before our 
eyes all along which, for one reason or another, we had failed to notice? As far as we 
could determine, we had overlooked no item, no data of accepted historical scholarship. 
But might there be something else -something that lay "beyond the pale' of documented 
history, the concrete facts to which we had endeavoured to confine ourselves? 
Certainly there was one motif, admittedly fabulous, which had threaded 
itself through our investigation, recurring repeatedly, with insistent 
and intriguing consistency. This as the mysterious object known as the 

Grail. By their contemporaries, for-example, the Cathars were believed 
to have been in possession of the Grail. The Templars, too, were often 
regarded as the Grail's custodians; and the Grail romances had 
originally issued from the court of the count of Champagne, who was 
intimately associated with the foundation of the Knights Templar. When 
the Templars were suppressed, moreover, the bizarre heads they 
supposedly worshipped enjoyed, according to the official Inquisition 
reports, many of the attributes traditionally ascribed to the Grail 

-providing sustenance, for example, and imbuing the land with fertility. 

In the course of our investigation we had run across the Grail in 
numerous other contexts as well. Some had been relatively recent, such 
as the occult circles of Josephin Peladan and Claude Debussy at the end 
of the nineteenth century. Others were considerably older. Godfroi de 
Bouillon, for instance, was descended according to medieval legend and 
folklore from Lohengrin, the 


Knight of the Swan; and Lohengrin, in the romances, was the son of 

Perceval or Parzival, protagonist of all the early Grail stories. 

Guillem de Gellone, moreover, ruler of the medieval principality in 

southern France during the reign of Charlemagne, was the hero of a poem 

by Wolfram von 

Eschenbach, most important of the Grail chroniclers. Indeed, the 

Guillem in 

Wolfram's poem was said to have been associated in some way with the mysterious "Grail 


Were these intrusions of the Grail into our inquiry, and others like them, merely random 

and coincidental? Or was there a continuity underlying and connecting them a continuity 

which, in some unimaginable way, did link our inquiry to the Grail, whatever the Grail 

might really be? At this point, we were confronted by a staggering question. Could the 

Grail be something more than pure fantasy? Could it actually have existed in some 

sense? Could there really have been such a thing as the Holy Grail? Or something 

concrete, at any rate, for which the Holy Grail was employed as a symbol? 

The question was certainly exciting and provocative -to say the least. 

At the same time it threatened to take us too far afield, into spheres 

of spurious speculation. It did, however, serve to direct our 

attention to the 

Grail romances themselves. And in themselves the Grail romances posed a number of 

perplexing and distinctly relevant conundrums. 

It is generally assumed that the Holy Grail relates in some way to Jesus. 

According to some traditions, it was the cup from which Jesus and his disciples drank at 

the Last Supper. According to other traditions, it was the cup in which Joseph of 

Arimathea caught Jesus's blood as he hung on the cross. According to other traditions 

still, the Grail was both of these. 

But if the Grail was so intimately associated with Jesus, or if it did indeed exist, why was 

there no reference to it whatever for more than a thousand years? Where was it during all 

that time? Why did it not figure in earlier literature, folklore or tradition? Why should 

something of such intense relevance and immediacy to Christendom remain buried for as 

long as it apparently did? 

More provocatively still, why should the Grail finally surface 

precisely when it did at the very peak of the Crusades? Was it 


coincidence that this enigmatic object, ostensibly non-existent for 

ten centuries, should assume the status it did at the very time it did 

when the Frankish kingdom of Jerusalem was in its full glory, when the 

Templars were at the apex of their power, when the 

Cathar heresy was gaining a momentum which actually threatened to displace the creed 

of Rome? Was this convergence of circumstances truly coincidental? 

Or was there some link between them? 

Inundated and somewhat daunted by questions of this kind, we turned our attention to the 

Grail romances. Only by examining these "fantasies' closely could we hope to determine 

whether their recurrence in our inquiry was indeed coincidental, or the manifestation of a 

pattern a pattern which might, in some way, prove significant. 

The Legend of the Holy Grail 

Most twentieth-century scholarship concurs in the belief that the Grail romances rest 

ultimately on a pagan foundation a ritual connected with the cycle of the seasons, the 

death and rebirth of the year. In its most primordial origins it would appear to involve a 

vegetation cult, closely related in form to, if not directly derived from those of Tammuz, 

Attis, Adonis and Osiris in the Middle East. Thus, in both Irish and Welsh mythology, 

there are repeated references to death, rebirth and renewal, as well as to a similar 

regenerative process in the land sterility and fertility. The theme is central to the 

anonymous fourteenth-century English poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. And in 

the Mabinogion, a compilation of Welsh legends roughly contemporary with the Grail 

romances though obviously drawing on much earlier material, there is a mysterious 

"cauldron of rebirth' in which dead warriors, thrown at nightfall, are resurrected the 

following morning. This cauldron is often associated with a giant hero named Bran. Bran 

also possessed a platter and 'whatever food one wished thereon was instantly obtained' - 

a property also sometimes ascribed to the Grail. At the end of his life, moreover, Bran 

was supposedly decapitated and his head placed, as a sort of talisman, in London. 


Here it was said to perform a number of magical functions not only 

ensuring fertility of the land but also, by some occult power, repelling invaders. 

Many of these motifs were subsequently incorporated into the Grail romances. There is 

no question that Bran, with his cauldron and platter, contributed something to later 

conceptions of the Grail. And Bran's head shares attributes not only with the Grail, but 

also with the heads allegedly worshipped by the Knights Templar. 

The pagan foundation for the Grail romances has been exhaustively explored by scholars, 

from Sir James Frazer in The Golden Bough up to the present. 

But during the mid to late twelfth century the originally pagan foundation for the Grail 

romances underwent a curious and extremely important transformation. In some obscure 

way that has eluded the investigation of researchers, the Grail became very uniquely and 

specifically associated with Christianity and with a rather unorthodox form of Christianity at 

that. On the basis of some elusive amalgamation, the Grail became inextricably linked 

with Jesus. And there seems to have been something more involved than a facile grafting 

of pagan and Christian traditions. 

As a relic linked mystically with Jesus, the Grail engendered a 

voluminous quantity of romances, or lengthy narrative poems, which, 

even today, tease the imagination. Despite clerical disapprobation, 

these romances flourished for nearly a century, becoming a fully 

fledged cult of their own a cult whose lifespan, interestingly enough, 

closely paralleled that of the Order of the Temple after its separation 

from the Prieure de Sion in 1 1 88. With the fall of the Holy Land in 

1291, and the dissolution of the Templars between 1307 and 1314, the 

Grail romances also vanished from the stage of history, for another two 

centuries or so, at any rate. Then, in 1470, the theme was taken up 

again by Sir Thomas Malory in his famous Le Morte d'Arthur; and it has 

remained more or less prominent in Western culture ever since. Nor has 

its context always been wholly literary. There seems to be abundant 

documentary evidence that certain members of the National 

Socialist hierarchy in Germany actually believed in the Grail's physical existence, and 

excavations for it were actually undertaken during the war in the south of France." 


By Malory's time the mysterious object known as the Grail had assumed 

the more or less distinct identity ascribed to it today. 

It was alleged to be the cup of the Last Supper, in which Joseph of 

Arimathea later caught Jesus's blood. According to certain accounts, 


Grail was brought by Joseph of Arimathea to England more specifically, 


Glastonbury. According to other accounts, it was brought by the 

Magdalene to 

France. As early as the fourth century legends describe the Magdalene fleeing the Holy 

Land and being set ashore near Marseilles where, for that matter, her purported relics are 

still venerated. According to medieval legends, she carried with her to Marseilles the Holy 

Grail. By the fifteenth century this tradition had clearly assumed immense importance for 

such individuals as King Rene d'Anjou, who collected "Grail cups'. 

But the early legends say that the Magdalene brought the Grail into France, not a cup. In 

other words, the simple association of Grail and cup was a relatively late development. 

Malory perpetuated- this facile association, and it has been a truism ever since. But 

Malory, in fact, took considerable liberties with his original sources. In these original 

sources, the Grail is something much more than a cup. And the mystical aspects of the 

Grail are far more important than the chivalric, which Malory extols. 

In the opinion of most scholars the first genuine Grail romance dates 

from the late twelfth century, from around 1 188 that crucial year which 

witnessed the fall of Jerusalem and the alleged rupture between the 

Order of the Temple and the Prieur6 de Sion. The romance in question 

is entitled 

Le Roman de~Perceval or Le Conte del Graal . It was composed by one Chretien de 

Troyes, who seems to have been attached, in some indeterminate capacity, to the court of 

the-count of Champagne. 

Little is known of Chretien's biography. His association with the 

court of 

Champagne is apparent from numerous works composed before his Grail 

romance works dedicated to Marie, Countess of Champagne. Through this 

corpus of courtly romances including one dealing with Lancelot, which 

makes no mention of anything resembling a Grail Chretien by the 1 180s 

had established an imposing reputation for himself. And, given his 

earlier work, one might have expected him to continue in a similar 


vein. Towards the end of his life, however, Chretien turned his 

attention to a new, hitherto unarticulated theme; and the Holy Grail, as it has come down 

to us today, made its official debut in Western culture and consciousness. 

Chretien's Grail romance was dedicated not to Marie de Champagne, but 


Philippe d'Alsace, Count of Flanders. 2 At the beginning of his poem 

Chretien declares that his work has been composed specifically at 

Philippe's request, and that it was from Philippe that he heard the story in the first place. 

The work itself furnishes a general pattern, and constitutes a prototype, for subsequent 

Grail narratives. Its protagonist is named Perceval, who is described as the Son of the 

Widow Lady'. This appellation is, in itself, both significant and intriguing. It had long been 

employed by certain of the dualist and Gnostic heresies -sometimes for their own 

prophets, sometimes for Jesus himself. Subsequently i# became a cherished designation 

in Freemasonry. 

Leaving his widowed mother, Perceval sallies forth to win his knighthood. 

During his travels, he comes upon an enigmatic fisherman the famous 

"Fisher King' in whose castle he is offered refuge for the night. That evening the Grail 

appears. Neither at this point nor at any other in the poem is it linked in any way whatever 

with Jesus. In fact the reader learns very little about it. He is not even told what it is. But 

whatever it is, it is carried by a damsel, is golden and studded with gems. Perceval does 

not know that he is expected to ask a question of this mysterious object he is expected to 

ask "whom one serves with it'. The question is obviously ambiguous. If the Grail is a 

vessel or a dish of some kind, the question may mean "who is intended to eat from it'. 

Alternatively the question might be rephrased: "Whom does one serve (in a chivalric 

sense) by virtue of serving the Grail?" Whatever the meaning of the question, Perceval 

neglects to ask it; and the next morning when he wakes, the castle is empty. His 

omission, he learns subsequently, causes a disastrous blight on the land. 

Later still he learns that he himself is of the "Grail family', and that the mysterious "Fisher 

King', who was "sustained' by the Grail, was in fact his own uncle. At this point Perceval 

makes a curious confession. Since his unhappy experience with the Grail, he declares, 

he has ceased to love or believe in God. 


Chretien's poem is rendered all the more perplexing by the fact that 

it is unfinished. Chretien himself died around 1 1 88, quite possibly before he could 

complete the work; and even if he did complete it no copy has survived. If such a copy 

ever existed, it may well have been destroyed in a fire at Troyes in 1 188. The point need 

not be laboured, but certain scholars have found this fire, coinciding as it did with the 

poet's death, vaguely suspicious. 

In any case Chretien's version of the Grail story is less important in 

itself than in its role as precursor. During the next half century the 

motif he had introduced at the court of Troyes was to spread through 

Western Europe like a brush-fire. At the same time, however, modern experts on the 

subject agree that the later Grail romances do not seem to have derived wholly from 

Chretien, but seem to have drawn on at least one other source as well a source which, in 

all probability, pre-dated Chretien. 

And during its proliferation the Grail story became much more closely linked with King 

Arthur who was only a peripheral figure in Chretien's version. And it also became linked 

with Jesus. 

Of the numerous Grail romances which followed Chretien's version, there 

were three that proved of special interest and relevance to us. One of 

these, the Roman de I'Estoire dou Saint Graal, was composed by Robert 


Boron, sometime between 1 1 90 and 1 1 99. Justifiably or no, Robert is often credited with 

making the Grail a specifically Christian symbol. 

Robert himself states that he is drawing on an earlier source and one 

quite different from Chretien. In speaking of his poem, and 

particularly of the 

Grail's Christian character, he alludes to a "great book', the secrets 

of which have been revealed to him. 3 

It is thus uncertain whether Robert himself Christianised the Grail, or 

whether someone else did so before him. Most authorities today incline 

towards the second of these possibilities. However, there is no 

question that Robert de Boron's account is the first to furnish a 

history of the 

Grail. The Grail, he explains, was the cup of the Last Supper. It 

then passed into the hands of Joseph of Arimathea, who, when Jesus was 

removed from the cross, filled it with the Saviour's blood and it is 

this sacred blood which confers on the Grail a magical quality. After 

the Crucifixion, 


Robert continues, Joseph's family became the keepers of the Grail. 

And for Robert the Grail romances involve the adventures and 

vicissitudes of this particular family. Thus Galahad is said to be 

Joseph of Arimathea's son. And the Grail itself passes to Joseph's 

brother-in-law, Brons, who carries it to England and becomes the 


King. As in Chretien's poem, Perceval is the "Son of the Widow Lady', but he is also the 

grandson of the Fisher King: 

Robert's version of the Grail story thus deviates in a number of 

important respects from Chretien's. In both versions Perceval is a 

"Son of the Widow 

Lady', but in Robert's version he is the grandson, not the nephew, of 


Fisher King and thus even more directly related to the Grail family. 

And while Chretien's narrative is vague in its chronology, set sometime 

during the Arthurian age, Robert's is quite precise. For Robert, the 

Grail story is set in England, and is not contemporary with Arthur but 

with Joseph of 


There is another Grail romance which has much in common with Robert's. 

Indeed it would seem to draw upon the same sources, but its utilisation 

of these sources is very different and decidedly more interesting. The 

romance in question is known as the Perlesvaus. It was composed around 

the same time as Robert's poem, between 1190 and 1212, by an author 

who, contrary to the conventions of the time, chose to remain 

anonymous. It is odd that he should have done so, given the exalted 

status accorded poets, unless he was involved in some calling a 

monastic or military order, for example which would have rendered 

composition of such romances unseemly or inappropriate. And, in fact, 

the weight of textual evidence concerning the 

Perlesvaus suggests this to be the case. According to at least one modern expert, the 

Perlesvaus may actually have been written by a Templar. And there is certainly evidence 

to support such a conjecture. 

It is known, for instance, that the Teutonic Knights encouraged and 

sponsored anonymous poets in their ranks, and such a precedent could 

well have been established by the Templars. What is more, the author 

of the Perlesvaus reveals, in the course of the poem, an almost 

extraordinarily detailed knowledge of the realities of fighting of 

armour and equipment, strategy and tactics, and weaponry and its 


effects on human flesh. The graphic description of wounds, for 

example, would seem to attest to a first-hand experience of the battlefield a realistic, 

unromanticised experience uncharacteristic of any other Grail romance. 

If the Perlesvaus was not actually composed by a Templar, it nevertheless provides a 

solid basis for linking the Templars with the Grail. Although the Order is not mentioned by 

name, its appearance in the poem would seem to be unmistakable. Thus Perceval, in his 

wanderings, happens upon a castle. This castle does not house the Grail, but it does 

house a conclave of "initiates' who are obviously familiar with the Grail. Perceval is 

received here by two "masters' who clap their hands and are joined by thirty-three other 

men. "They were clad in white garments, and not one of them but had a red cross in the 

midst of his breast, and they seemed to be all of an age. "S One of these mysterious 

"masters' states that he has personally seen the Grail an experience vouchsafed only to 

an elect few. 

And he also states that he is familiar with Perceval's lineage. 

Like Chretien's and Robert's poems, the Perlesvaus lays an enormous stress on lineage. 

At numerous points Perceval's is described as "most holy'. 

Elsewhere it is stated explicitly that Perceval "was of the lineage 


Joseph of Arimathea', and that "this Joseph was his [Perceval's] mother's uncle, that had 

been a soldier of Pilate seven years'." 

Nevertheless the Perlesvaus is not set in Joseph's lifetime. On the contrary it takes place, 

like Chretien's version, during the age of Arthur. 

Chronology is further scrambled by the fact that the Holy Land is already in the hands of 

the "infidel' which it wasn't until nearly two centuries after Arthur. And by the fact that the 

Holy Land is apparently to be identified with Camelot. 

To a greater degree than either Chretien's or Robert's poems, the 

Perlesvaus is magical in nature. In addition to his knowledge of the 

battlefield, the anonymous author displays a knowledge, quite 

surprising for the time, of conjuration and invocation. There are also 

numerous alchemical references to two men, for instance, "made of 

copper by art of nigromancy'." And some of the magical and alchemical 

references resonate with echoes of the mystery surrounding the 


Templars. Thus, one of the "masters' of the White-clad Templar-like 

company says to Perceval, "There are the heads sealed in silver, and 

the heads sealed in lead, and the bodies whereunto these heads 

belonged; I tell you that you must make come thither the head both of 

the King and of the Queen. "e 

If the Perlesvaus abounds in magical allusions, it also abounds in other allusions that are 

both heretical and/or pagan. Again Perceval is designated by the dualist appellation, "Son 

of the Widow Lady'. There are references to a sanctioned ritual of king-sacrifice, most 

incongruous in a purportedly Christian poem. There are references to the roasting and 

devouring of children a crime of which the Templars were popularly accused. And at one 

point there is a singular rite, which again evokes memories of the Templar trials. At a red 

cross erected in a forest, a beautiful white beast of indeterminate nature is torn apart by 


While Perceval watches, a knight and a damsel appear with golden vessels, collect the 

fragments of mutilated flesh and, having kissed the cross, disappear into the trees. 

Perceval himself then kneels before the cross and kisses it: 

and there came to him a smell so sweet of the cross and of the place, 

such as no sweetness can be compared therewith. He looketh and see th 

coming from the forest two priests all afoot; and the first shouteth to 

him: "Sir 

Knight, withdraw yourself away from the cross, for no right have you to come nigh it': 

Perceval draweth him back, and the priest kneeleth before the cross and adore th it and 

boweth down and kisseth it more than a score times, and manifeste th the most joy in the 

world. And the other priest cometh after, and bringeth a great rod, and set teth the first 

priest aside by force, and bea teth the cross with the rod in every part, and weepeth right 

passing sore. 

Perceval beholdeth him with right great wonderment and saith unto 


"Sir, herein seem you to be no priest! wherefore do you so great 

shame?T "Sir," with the priest, "It nought concerneth you of whatsoever 

we may do, nor nought shall you know thereof for us!" Had he not been 

a priest, 

Perceval would have been right wroth with him, but he had no will to do 

him any hurt.9 


Such abuse of the cross evokes distinct echoes of the accusations 

levelled against the Templars. But not of the Templars alone. It might also reflect a skein 

of dualist or Gnostic thought the thought of the Cathars, for instance, who also repudiated 

the cross. 

In the Perlesvaus this skein of dualist or Gnostic thought extends, in some sense, to the 

Grail itself. For Chretien the Grail was something unspecified, made of gold and 

encrusted with gems. For Robert de Boron it was identified as the cup used at the Last 

Supper and subsequently to collect Jesus's blood. In the Perlesvaus, however, the Grail 

assumes a most curious and significant dimension. At one point, Sir Gawain is warned by 

a priest, "for behoveth not discover the secrets of the Saviour, and them also to whom 

they are committed behoveth keep them covertly'." The Grail, then, involves a secret in 

some way related to Jesus; and the nature of this secret is entrusted to a select company. 

When Gawain eventually does see the Grail, it "seemeth him that in the 

midst of the Graal he see th the figure of a child .. . he looketh up 

and it seemeth him to be the Graal all in flesh, and he see th above, 

as he thinketh, a King crowned, nailed upon a rood." And some time 

later, the 

Grail appeared at the sac ring of the mass, in five several manners that none ought not to 

tell, for the secret things of the sacrament ought none tell openly, but he unto whom God 

hath given it. King Arthur beheld all the changes, the last whereof was the change into a 


In short the Grail, in the Perlesvaus, consists of a changing sequence of images or 

visions. The first of these is a crowned king, crucified. The second is a child. The third is 

a man wearing a crown of thorns, bleeding from his forehead, his feet, his palms and his 

side. 1 1 The fourth manifestation is not specified. The fifth is a chalice. On each 

occasion the manifestation is attended by a fragrance and a great light. 

From this account the Grail, in the Perlesvaus, would seem to be 

several things simultaneously or something that can be interpreted on 

several different levels. On the mundane level, it might well be an 

object of some kind -like a cup, bowl or chalice. It would also, in 


some metaphorical sense, appear to be a lineage or perhaps certain 

individuals who comprise this lineage. And quite obviously the Grail would also seem to 

be an experience of some sort quite likely a Gnostic illumination such as that extolled by 

the Cathars and other dualist sects of the period. 

The Story of Wolfram von Eschenbach 

Of all the Grail romances the most famous, and the most artistically significant, is Parzival, 

composed sometime between 1 1 95 and 1 21 6. Its author was Wolfram von Eschenbach, 

a knight of Bavarian origin. At first we thought that this might distance him from his 

subject, rendering his account less reliable than various others. Before long, however, we 

concluded that if anyone could speak authoritatively of the Grail, it was Wolfram. 

At the beginning of Parzival, Wolfram boldly asserts that Chretien's version of the Grail 

story is wrong, while his own is accurate because based on privileged information. This 

information, he later explains, he obtained from one Kyot de Provence who received it in 

turn supposedly from one Flegetanis. It is worth quoting Wolfram's words in full: 

Anyone who asked me before about the Grail and took me to task for not 

telling him was very much in the wrong. Kyot asked me not to reveal 

this, for Adventure commanded him to give it no thought until she 


Adventure, should invite the telling, and then one must speak of it, of course. 

Kyot, the well-known master, found in Toledo, discarded, set down in heathen writing, the 

first source of this adventure. He first had to learn the abc's, but without the art of black 

magic .. . 

A heathen, Flegetanis, had achieved high renown for his learning. This 

scholar of nature was descended from Solomon and born of a family which 

had long been Israelite until baptism became our shield against the 

fire of Hell. He wrote the adventure of the Grail. On his father's 



Flegetanis was a heathen, who worshipped a calf .. . The heathen 

Flegetanis could tell us how all the stars set and rise again . To the circling course of the 

stars man's affairs and destiny aye linked. Flegetanis the heathen saw with his own eyes 

in the constellations things he was shy to talk about, hidden mysteries. He said there was 

a thing called the Grail, whose name he had read clearly in the constellations. A host of 

angels left it on the earth. 

Since then, baptised men have had the task of guarding it, and with such chaste discipline 

that those who are called to the service of the Grail are always noble men. Thus wrote 

Flegetanis of these things. 

Kyot, the wise master, set about to trace this tale in Latin books, to see where there ever 

had been a people, dedicated to purity and worthy of caring for the Grail. He read the 

chronicles of the lands, in Britain and elsewhere, in France and in Ireland, and in Anjou lie 

found the tale. 

There he read the true story of Mazadan, and the exact record of all 

his family was written there. "4 

Of the numerous items that beg for comment in this passage, it is 

important to note at least four. One is that the Grail story 

apparently involves the family of an individual named Mazadan. A 

second is that the house of Anjou is in some way of paramount 

consequence. A third is that the original version of the story seems 

to have filtered into Western Europe over the 

Pyrenees, from Muslim Spain a perfectly plausible assertion, given the 

status Toledo enjoyed as a centre for esoteric studies, both Judaic 


Muslim. But the most striking element in the passage quoted is that 


Grail story, as Wolfram explains its derivation, would seem ultimately to be of Judaic 

origin. If the Grail is so awesome a Christian mystery, why should its secret be 

transmitted by Judaic initiates? For that matter, why should Judaic writers have had 

access to specifically Christian material of which Christendom itself was unaware? 

Scholars have wasted considerble time and energy debating whether Kyot 


Flegetanis are real or fictitious. In fact the identity of Kyot, as we had learned from our 

study of the Templars, can be fairly solidly established. 


Kyot de Provence would seem, almost certainly, to have been Guiot de 

Provins - a troubadour, monk and spokesman for the Templars who did live in Provence 

and ~ who wrote love songs, attacks on the Church, paeans in praise of the Temple and 

satirical verses. 

Guiot is known to have visited Mayence, in Germany, in 1184. The 

occasion was the chivalric festival of Pentecost, at which the Holy 

Roman Emperor, 

Frederick Barbarossa, conferred knighthood on his sons. As a matter of 

course the ceremony was attended by poets and troubadours from all 


Christendom. As a knight of the Holy Roman Empire, Wolfram would almost certainly 

have been present; and it is certainly reasonable to suppose that he and Guiot met. 

Learned men were not so very common at the time. 

Inevitably they would have clustered together, sought each other out, made each other's 

acquaintance; and Guiot may well have found in Wolfram a kindred spirit to whom he 

perhaps confided certain information, even if only in symbolic form. And if Guiot permits 

Kyot to be accepted as genuine, it is at least plausible to assume that Flegetanis was 

genuine as well. If he was not, Wolfram and/or Guiot must have had some special 

purpose in creating him. And in giving him the distinctive background and pedigree he is 

said to have had. 

In addition to the Grail story, Wolfram may have obtained from Guiot a 

consuming interest in the Templars. In any case it is known that 

Wolfram possessed such an interest. Like Guiot he even made a 

pilgrimage to the 

Holy Land, where he could observe the Templars in action, at first hand. 

And in Parzival he emphasises that the guardians of the Grail and the Grail family are 

Templars. This might, of course, be the sloppy chronology and cavalier anachronism of 

poetic licence such as can be discerned in some of the other Grail romances. But 

Wolfram is much more careful about such things than other writers of his time. Moreover 

there are the patent allusions to the Temple in the Perlesvaus. Would both Wolfram and 

the author of the Perlesvaus be guilty of the same glaring anachronism? 

Possibly. But it is also possible that something is being implied by 

these ostentatious connections of the Templars with the Grail. For if 


Templars are indeed guardians of the Grail, there is one flagrant 

implication that the Grail existed not only in Arthurian times, but 


also during the Crusades, when the romances about it were composed. By introducing the 

Templars, both Wolfram and the author of the Perlesvaus may be suggesting that the 

Grail was not just something of the past, but also something which, for them, possessed 

contemporary relevance. 

The background to Wolfram's poem is thus as important, in some obscure way, as the text 

of the poem itself. Indeed the role of the Templars, like the identity of both Kyot and 

Flegetanis, would seem to be crucial; and these factors may well hold a key to the whole 

mystery surrounding the Grail. 

Unfortunately, the text of Parzival does little to resolve these questions, while posing a 

good many others. 

In the first place Wolfram not only maintains that his version of the 

Grail story, in contrast to Chretien's, is the correct one. He also 

maintains that Chretien's account is merely fantastic fable, whereas 

his is in fact a species of "initiation document'. In other words, as 

Wolfram states quite unequivocally, there is more to the Grail mystery 

than meets the eye. And he makes it clear, with numerous references 

throughout his poem, that 'the 

Grail is not merely an object of gratuitous mystification and fantasy, but a means of 

concealing something of immense consequence. Again and again, he hints to his 

audience to read between the lines, dropping here and there suggestive hints. At the 

same time, he constantly reiterates the urgency of secrecy, "For no man can ever win the 

Grail unless he is known in Heaven and he be called by name to the Grail. 

115 And 'the Grail is unknown save to those who have been called by 

name .. . to the Grail's company. "6 

Wolfram is both precise and elusive in identifying the Grail. When it first appears, on 

Parzival's sojourn in the Fisher King's castle, there is no real indication of what it is. It 

would seem, however, to have something in common with Chretien's vague description of 


She [the Queen of the Grail family] was clothed in a dress of Arabian silk. Upon a deep 

green achmardi she bore the Perfection of Paradise, both root and branch. 

That was a thing called the Grail, which surpasses all earthly 

perfection. Repanse de Schoye was the name of her whom the Grail 


permitted to be its bearer. Such was the nature of the Grail that she 

who watched over it had to preserve her purity and renounce all falsity." 

Among other things, the Grail, at this point, would seem to be a kind of magical 

cornucopia or horn of plenty: 

A hundred squires, so ordered, reverently took bread in white napkins 

from before the Grail, stepped back in a group and, separating, passed 

the bread to all the tables. I was told, and I tell you too, but on 

your oath, not mine hence if I deceive you, we are liars all of us that 

whatsoever one reached out his hand for, he found it ready, in front of 

the Grail, food warm or food cold, dishes new or old, meat tame or 

game. "There never was anything like that," many will say. But they 

will be wrong in their angry protest, for the Grail was the fruit of 

blessedness, such abundance of the sweetness of the world that its 

delights were very like what we are told of the kingdom of heaven. "8 

All of this is rather mundane in its way, even pedestrian, and the Grail would appear to be 

an innocuous enough affair. But later, when Parzival's hermit-uncle expounds on the 

Grail, it becomes decidedly more powerful. 

After a lengthy disquisition, which includes strands of flagrantly Gnostic thought, the 

hermit describes the Grail thus: 

Well I know that many brave knights dwell with the Grail at Munsalvaesche. 

Always when they ride out, as they often do, it is to seek adventure. They do so for their 

sins, these templars, whether their reward be defeat or victory. A valiant host lives there, 

and I will tell you how they are sustained. They live from a stone of purest kind. If you do 

not know it, it shall here be named to you. It is called lapsit exillis. By the power of that 

stone the phoenix burns to ashes, but the ashes give him life again. 

Thus does the phoenix molt and change its plumage, which afterwards is 

bright and shining and as lovely as before. There never was a human so 

ill but that, if he one day sees that stone, he cannot die within the 

week that follows. And in looks he will not fade. His appearance will 

stay the same, be it maid or man, as on the day he saw the stone, the 


same as when the best years of his life began, and though he should 

see the stone for two hundred years, it will never change, save that 

his hair might perhaps turn grey. Such power does the stone give a man 

that flesh and bones are at once made young again. The stone is also 

called the 


According to Wolfram, then, the Grail is a stone of some kind. But such a definition of the 

Grail is far more provocative than satisfying. Scholars have a number of interpretations of 

the phrase lap sit exillis', all of which are more or less plausible. "Lapsit exillis' might be a 

corruption of "lapis ex caelis' - "stone from the heavens'. It might also be a corruption of 

lap sit ex caelis' - "it fell from the heavens', or of "lapis lapsus ex caelus' - "a stone fallen 

from heaven', or, finally, of "lapis elixir' the fabulous Philosopher's Stone of alchemy. 2 

Certainly the passage quoted, like the whole of Wolfram's poem for that matter, is laden 

with alchemical symbolism. The phoenix, for example is established alchemical shorthand 

for resurrection or rebirth and also, in medieval iconography, is an emblem of the dying 

and resurrected Jesus. 

If the phoenix is indeed somehow representative of Jesus, Wolfram is 

implicitly associating him with a stone. Such an association is, of 

course, hardly unique. There is Peter (Pierre or "stone' in French) 

the "stone' or 'rock' on which Jesus establishes his church. And as we 

had discovered, 

Jesus, in the New Testament, explicitly equates himself with "the keystone neglected by 

the builders' the keystone of the Temple; the Rock of Sion. 

Because it was "founded' on this rock, there was supposedly a royal tradition descended 

from Godfroi de Bouillon which was equal to the reigning dynasties of Votrppe. 

Wolfram links that immedately following the one quoted, and, through 

the symlioraecifically with the Crucifixion -This very day, there comes 

with the 

Magdalene: wherein lies its greatest power the Grail] a message and 

they await there a dove, jay is Good Friday, 

Heaven. It brings a small white the stone. Then, shining white, the 


~# , down it on Heaven again. Always on Good Friday it ~&r? up to 

the stone what I have just told you, and from that the stone derives 

whatever good fragrances of drink and food there are on earth, like to 

the perfection of Paradise. I mean all things the earth may bear. And 

further the stone provides whatever game lives beneath the heavens, 

whether it flies or runs or swims. Thus, to the knightly brotherhood, 

does the power of the Grail give sustenance. z' 

In addition to its other extraordinary attributes the Grail, in Wolfram's poem, would almost 

seem to possess a certain sentience. It has the capacity to call individuals into its service 

to call them, that is, in an active sense: 

Hear now how those called to the Grail are made known. On the stone, around the edge, 

appear letters inscribed, giving the name and lineage of each one, maid or boy, who is to 

take this blessed journey. No one needs to rub out the inscription, for once he had read 

the name, it fades away before his eyes. All those now grown to maturity came there as 

children. Blessed is the mother who bore a child destined to do service there. Poor and 

rich alike rejoice if their child is summoned to join the company. They are brought there 

from many lands. From sinful shame they are more protected than others, and receive 

good reward in heaven. When life dies for them here they are given perfection there." 

If the Grail's guardians are Templars, its actual custodians would 

appear to be members of a specific family. This family seems to 

possess numerous collateral branches, some of which their identity 

often unknown even to themselves are scattered about the world. But 

other members of the family inhabit the Grail of 

Munsalvaesche fairly obviously linked with the legendary Cathar castle 

of The writer has identified tsalvat, which at least one salvaesche 

dwell a nu, as ontsegur. Within Munthe Grail's actual ?~-tuber of 

enigmatic figures. There is ("Reponse de C'-,eeper and bearer, Repanse 

de Schoye course, A ~." =loix or "Chosen Response'). And there is, of 

castle .ntortas, the Fisher King and lord of the Grail cro ;, who is 

wounded in the genitals and unable to pro. ate or, alternatively, to 


die. As in Chretien's Grail 312 romance, Anfortas, for Wolfram, is 

Parzival's uncle. And when, at the end of the poem, the curse is lifted and Anfortas can at 

last die, Parzival becomes heir to the Grail castle. 

The Grail, or the Grail family, calls certain individuals into its service from the outside 

world individuals who must be initiated into some sort of mystery. At the same time it 

sends its trained servitors out into the world to perform actions on its behalf and 

sometimes to occupy a throne. 

For the Grail, apparently, possesses the power to create kings: 

Maidens are appointed to care for the Grail .. . That was God's decree, and these maidens 

performed their service before it. The Grail selects only noble company. Knights, devout 

and good, are chosen to guard it. The coming of the high stars brings this people great 

sorrow, young and old alike. 

God's anger at them has lasted all too long. When shall they ever say yes to joy? .. . I will 

tell you something more, whose truth you may well believe. A twofold chance is often 

theirs; they both give and receive profit. They receive young children there, of noble 

lineage and beautiful. 

And if anywhere a land loses its lord, if the people there acknowledge 


Hand of God, and seek a new lord, they are granted one from the company 

of the Grail. They must treat him with courtesy, for the blessing of 

God protects him.z' 

From the above passage, it would seem that at some point in the past 


Grail family somehow incurred God's wrath. The allusion to "God's 

anger at them' echoes numerous medieval statements about the Jews. It 

also echoes-the title of a mysterious book associated with Nicolas 

Flamel The 

Sacred Book of Abraham the Jew, Prince, Priest, Levite, Astrologer 


Philosopher to that Tribe of Jews who by the Wrath of God were Dispersed amongst the 

Gauls. And Flegetanis, who Wolfram says wrote the original account of the Grail, is said 

to be descended from Solomon. Could the Grail family possibly be of Judaic origin? 

Whatever the curse formerly visited upon the Grail family, it has unquestionably come, by 

Parzival's time, to enjoy divine favour and a great deal of power as well. 


And yet it is rigorously enjoined, at least in certain respects to 

secrecy about its identity. 

The men [of the Grail family] God sends forth secretly; the maidens leave openly .. . Thus 

the maids are sent out openly from the Grail, and the men in secret, that they may have 

children who will in turn one day enter the service of the Grail, and serving, enhance its 


God can teach them how to do this .25 

Women of the Grail family, then, when they intermarry with the outside world, may 

disclose their pedigree and identity. The men, however, must keep this information 

scrupulously concealed so much so, in fact, that they may not even allow questions about 

their origins. The point, apparently, is a crucial one, for Wolfram returns to it most 

emphatically at the very end of the poem. 

Upon the Grail it was now found written that any templar whom God's 

hand appointed master over foreign people should forbid the asking of 

his name or race, and that he should help them to their rights. If the 

question is asked of him they shall have his help no longer .26 

From this, of course, derives the dilemma of Lohengrin, Parzival's son, who when queried 

on his origin, must abandon his wife and children and retire into the seclusion from 

whence he came. But why should such stringent secrecy be required? What "skeleton in 

the closet', so to speak, might conceivably dictate it? If the Grail family were, in fact, of 

Judaic origin, that for the age in which Wolfram was writing might constitute a possible 

explanation. And such an explanation gains at least some credence from the Lohengrin 

story. For there are many variants of the Lohengrin story, and Lohengrin is not always 

identified by the same name. In some versions, he is called Helios implying the sun. In 

other versions, he is called Elie or Eli 17 an unmistakably Judaic name. 

In Robert de Boron's romance and in the Perlesvaus, Perceval is of 

Judaic lineage the 'holy lineage' of Joseph of Arimathea. In Wolfram's 

poem this status, so far as Parzival is concerned, would seem to be 

incidental. True, 

Parzival is the nephew of the wounded Fisher King and thus related by 


blood to the Grail family. And though he does not marry into the 

Grail family he is, in fact, already married he still inherits the Grail castle and becomes its 

new lord. But for Wolfram the protagonist's pedigree would seem to be less important 

than the means whereby he proves himself worthy of it. He must, in short, conform to 

certain criteria dictated by the blood he carries in his veins. And this emphasis would 

clearly seem to indicate the importance Wolfram ascribes to that blood. 

There is no question that Wolfram does ascribe immense significance to a particular 

bloodline. If there is a single dominant theme pervading not only Parzival, but his other 

works as well, it is not so much the Grail as the Grail family. Indeed the Grail family 

seems to dominate Wolfram's mind to an almost obsessive degree, and he devotes far 

more attention to them and their genealogy than to the mysterious object of which they are 


The genealogy of the Grail family can be reconstructed from a close 

reading of Parzival. Parzival himself is a nephew of Anfortas, the 

maimed Fisher 

King and lord of the Grail castle. Anfortas, in turn, is the son of 


Frimutel, and Frimutel the son of Titurel. At this point the lineage 

becomes more entangled. Eventually, however, it leads back to a 


Laziliez which may be a derivation of Lazarus, the brother, in the 


Testament, of Mary and Martha. And Laziliez's parents, the original progenitors of the 

Grail family, are named Mazadan and Terdelaschoye. 

The latter is obviously a Germanic version of a French phrase, "Terre 

de la 

Choix' - "Chosen Land'. Mazadan is rather more obscure. It might 

conceivably derive from the Zoroastrian Ahura Mazda, the dualist 

principle of Light. At the same time, it also, if only phonetically 

perhaps, suggests 

Masada - a major bastion during the Judaic revolt against Roman occupation in A.D. 68. 

The names Wolfram ascribes to members of the Grail family are thus 

often provocative and suggestive. At the same time, however, they told 

us nothing that was historically useful. If we hoped to find an actual 

historical prototype for the Grail family, we would have to look 

elsewhere. The clues were meagre enough. We knew, for example, that 

the Grail family supposedly culminated in Godfroi de Bouillon; but that 

did not cast much light on 

Godfroi's mythical antecedents except, of course, that (like his real 


antecedents) they kept their identity scrupulously secret. But 

according to Wolfram, Kyot found an account of the 

Grail story in the annals of the house of Anjou, and Parzival himself 

is said to be of Angevin blood. At the least this was extremely 

interesting for the house of Anjou was closely associated with both the 

Templars and the 

Holy Land. Indeed Fulques, Count of Anjou, himself became, so to 

speak, an "honorary' or part time Templar. In 1131, moreover, he 

married Godfroi de 

Bouillon's niece, the legendary Melusine, and became king of Jerusalem. 

According to the "Prieure documents', the lords of Anjou the 

Plantagenet family were thus allied to the Merovingian bloodline. And 

the name of 

Plantagenet may even have been intended to echo "Plant-Ard' or Plantard. 

Such connections were patchy and tenuous. But additional clues were 

provided for us by the geographical setting of Wolfram's poem. For the 

most part this setting is France. In contrast to later Grail 

chroniclers Wolfram even maintains that Arthur's court, Camelot, is 

situated in France quite specifically at Nantes. Nantes, now in 

Brittany, was the westernmost boundary of the old Merovingian realm at 

the apex of its power. 2e 

In a manuscript of Chretien's version of the Grail story, Perceval 

declares he was born in "Scaudone' or "Sinadon', or some such place 

that appears in a number of orthographic variants and the region is 

described as mountainous. According to Wolfram, Parzival comes from 

"Waleis'. Most scholars have taken Waleis to be Wales and Sinadon, in 

it various spellings, as Snowdon or Snowdonia. If this is so, however, 

certain insurmountable problems arise, and, as one modern commentator 

remarks, "maps fail us'. For characters move constantly between Waleis 

and Arthur's court at Nantes, as well as other French locations, 

without crossing any water! They move overland, in short, and through 

regions whose inhabitants speak French. Was Wolfram's geography simply 

sloppy? Can it possibly have been that careless? Or might Waleis not 

be Wales after all? Two scholars have suggested that it might be 

Valois, the region of France to the north-east of Paris but there are 

no mountains in Valois, nor does the rest of the landscape conform in 

any way to Wolfram's description. At the same time, however, there is 


another possible location for Waleis - a location that is mountainous, 

that does conform precisely to Wolfram's other topographical 

descriptions and whose inhabitants do speak French. This location is 

the Valais in Switzerland, on the shores of Lake Leman to the east of 

Geneva. It would seem, in short, that Parzival's homeland is neither 

Wales nor Valois, but Valais. And his actual birthplace of Sinadon would not be Snowdon 

or Snowdonia, but Sidonensis, the capital of the Valais, And the modern name of 

Sidonensis, capital of the Valais, is Sion. 

According to Wolfram, then, Arthur's court is in Brittany. Parzival 

would seem to have been born in Switzerland. And the Grail family 

itself? The 

Grail castle? Wolfram provides an answer in his most ambitious work, 

left unfinished at his death and entitled Der Junge Titurel. In this 

evocative fragment Wolfram addressed himself to the life of Titurel, 

father of 

Anfortas, and the original builder of the Grail castle. Der ]unge Titurel is very specific not 

only about genealogical detail, but also about the dimensions, the components, the 

materials, the configuration of the Grail castle its circular chapel, for example, like those of 

the Templars. And the castle itself is situated in the Pyrenees. 

In addition to Der Junge Titurel, Wolfram left another work unfinished 

at his death the poem known as Willehalm, whose protagonist is Guillem 


Gellone, Merovingian ruler of the ninth-century principality straddling 


Pyrenees. Guillem is said to be associated with the Grail family. z9 He 

would thus seem to be the only figure in Wolfram's works whose 

historical identity can actually be determined. Yet even in his 

treatment of the unidentifiable figures, Wolfram's meticulous precision 

is astonishing. The more one studies him, the more likely it seems 

that he is referring to an actual group of people not a mythic or 

fictionalised family, but one that did exist historically, and may well 

have included Guillem de Gellone. This conclusion becomes all the more 

plausible when Wolfram admits he is hiding something that Parzival and 

his other works are not merely romances, but also initiation documents, 


depositories of secrets. The Grail and Cabalism 

As the Perlesvaus suggests, the Grail, at least in part, would seem to be an experience of 

some kind. In his excursus on the Grail's curative properties and its power to ensure 

longevity, Wolfram would also seem to be implying something experiential as well as 

symbolic a state of mind or a state of being. There seems little question that on one level 

the Grail is an initiatory experience which in modern terminology would be described as a 

'transformation' or "altered state of consciousness'. Alternatively it might be described as 

a "Gnostic experience', a 'mystical experience', 'illumination' or "union with God'. It is 

possible to be even more precise and place the experiential aspect of the Grail in a very 

specific context. 

That context is the Cabala and Cabalistic thought. Certainly such 

thought was much 'in the air' at the time the Grail romances were 

composed. There was a famous Cabalistic school at Toledo, for 

instance, where Kyot is said to have learned of the Grail. There were 

other schools at Gerona, 

Montpellier and elsewhere in the south of France. And it would hardly seem coincidental 

that there was also such a school at Troyes. It dated from 1 070 - Godfroi de Bouillon's 

time and was conducted by one Rashi, perhaps the most famous of medieval Cabalists. 

It is impossible here, of course, to do justice to the Cabala or Cabalistic thought. 

Nevertheless certain points must be made in order to establish the connection between 

Cabalism and the Grail romances. 

Very briefly then, 

Cabalism might be described as "esoteric Judaism' - a practical 

psychological methodology of uniquely Judaic origin designed to induce 

a dramatic transformation of consciousness. In this respect it may be 

viewed as a Judaic equivalent of similar methodologies or disciplines 

in Hindu, 

Buddhist and Taoist tradition certain forms of yoga for example, or 



Like its Eastern equivalents, Cabalistic training entails a series of 

rituals a structured sequence of successive initiatory experiences 

leading the practitioner to ever more radical modifications of 

consciousness and cognition. And though the meaning and significance 

of such modifications is subject to interpretation, their reality, as 


psychological phenomena, is beyond dispute. Of the "stages' of 

Cabalistic initiation, one of the most important is the stage known as Tiferet. In the Tiferet 

experience the individual is said to pass beyond the world of form into the formless or, in 

contemporary terms, to 'transcend his ego'. Symbolically speaking this consists of a kind 

of sacrificial "death' the "death' of the ego, of one's sense of individuality and the isolation 

such individuality entails; and, of course, a rebirth, or resurrection, into another dimension, 

of all-encompassing unity and harmony. In Christian adaptations of Cabalism Tiferet was 

therefore associated with Jesus. 

For medieval Cabalists the initiation into Tiferet was associated with certain specific 

symbols. These included a hermit or guide or wise old man, a majestic king, a child, a 

sacrificed god.3 In time other symbols were added as well a truncated pyramid, for 

example, a cube and a rose cross. 

The relation of these symbols to the Grail romances is sufficiently 

apparent. In every Grail narrative there is a wise old hermit 

Perceval's or Parzival's uncle frequently who acts as a spiritual 

guide. In 

Wolfram's poem the Grail as "stone' may possibly correspond to the cube. 

And in the Perlesvaus the various manifestations of the Grail 

correspond almost precisely to the symbols of Tiferet. Indeed, the 

Perlesvaus in itself establishes a crucial link between the Tiferet 

experience and the 


The Play on Words 

We could thus identify the experiential aspect of the Grail and connect 

it quite precisely with Cabalism. This imparted another seemingly 


Judaic element to the Grail's supposedly Christian character. But whatever the Grail's 

experiential aspects, there were other aspects as well aspects which we could not ignore 

and which were of paramount importance-to our story. These aspects were historical and 


Again and again, the Grail romances had confronted us with a pattern of 

a distinctly mundane and un mystical nature. Again and again, there 

was a callow knight who, by dint of certain tests that proved him 

'worthy', was initiated into some monumental secret. Again and again, 


this secret was closely guarded by an order of some sort, apparently 

chivalric in composition. Again and again, the secret was in some way associated with a 

specific family. Again and again, the protagonist by intermarriage with this family, by his 

own lineage or by both became lord of the Grail and everything connected with it. On this 

level, at least, we seemed to be dealing with something of a concrete historical character. 

One can become lord of a castle or a group of people. One can become heir to certain 

lands or even a certain heritage. But one cannot become lord or heir to an experience. 

Was it relevant, we wondered, that the Grail romances, when subjected 

to close scrutiny, rested sb crucially on matters of lineage and 

genealogy, pedigree, heritage and inheritance? Was it relevant that 

the lineage and genealogy in question should overlap at certain key 

points those which had figured so saliently in our inquiry the house of 

Anjou, for instance, 

Guillem de Gellone and Godfroi de Bouillon? Could the mystery attached 


Rennes-leChateau and the Prieure de Sion relate, in some as yet obscure way, to that 

mysterious object called the Holy Grail? Had we, in fact, been following in Parzival's 

footsteps and conducting our own modern Grail quest? 

The evidence suggested that this was a very real possibility. And indeed there was one 

more crucial piece of evidence which tilted the balance decisively in favour of such a 

conclusion. In many of the earlier manuscripts, the Grail is called the "Sangraal'; and 

even in the later version by Malory, it is called the "Sangreal'. It is likely that some such 

form "Sangraal' or "Sangreal' was in fact the original one. It is also likely that that one 

word was subsequently broken in the wrong place. In other words "Sangraal' or 

"Sangreal' may not have been intended to divide into "San Graal' or "San Greal' but into 

"Sang Raal' or "Sang Real'. Or, to employ the modern spelling, Sang Royal. Royal blood. 

In itself, such wordplay might be provocative but hardly conclusive. 

Taken in conjunction with the emphasis on genealogy and lineage, 

however, there is not much room for doubt. And, for that matter, the 

traditional associations the cup which caught Jesus's blood, for 

instance would seem to reinforce this supposition. Quite clearly, the 


Grail would appear to pertain in some way to blood and a bloodline. This raises, of course, 

certain obvious questions. Whose blood? And whose bloodline? 

The Lost Kings and the Grail 

The Grail romances were not the only poems of their kind to find a receptive audience in 

the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. 

There were many others Tristan and Isolde, for instance, and Eric and 

Enide composed in some cases by Chretien himself, in some cases by 

contemporaries and countrymen of Wolfram, such as Hartmann von Aue and 

Gottfried von 

Strassburg. These romances make no mention whatever of the Grail. But they are clearly 

set in the same mythico-historical period as the Grail romances, because they depend 

more or less heavily on Arthur. As far as he can be dated, Arthur seems to have lived in 

the late fifth and/or early sixth centuries. In other words, Arthur lived at the peak of 

Merovingian ascendancy in Gaul, and was, in fact, closely contemporary with Clovis. If 

the term "Ursus' - bear' was applied to the Merovingian royal line, the name "Arthur', which 

also means 'bear' may have been an attempt to confer a comparable dignity on a British 


For the writers at the time of the Crusades, the Merovingian era seems 

to have been of some crucial importance so much so, in fact, that it 

provided the backdrop for romances which had nothing to do with 


Arthur or the Grail. One such is the national epic of Germany, the 

Nibelungenlied or Song of the Nibelungen, on which, in the nineteenth 

century, Wagner drew so heavily for his monumental operatic sequence, 


Ring. This musical opus, and the poem from which it derives, are generally dismissed as 

pure fantasy. Yet the Nibelungs were a real people, a Germanic tribe who lived in late 

Merovingian times. 

Moreover, many of the names in the Nibelungenlied Siegmund, for 

instance, Siegfried, Sieglinde, 

Brunhilde and Kriemhild are patently Merovingian names. Many episodes in the poem 

closely parallel, and may even refer to, specific events of Merovingian times. 


Although it has nothing to do with either Arthur or the Grail, the 

Nibelungenlied is further evidence that the Merovingian epoch exercised 

a powerful hold on the imaginations of twelfth- and thirteenth-century 

poets as if they knew something crucial about that epoch which later 

writers and historians did not. In any case, modern scholars concur 

that the Grail romances, like the Nibelungenlied, refer to the 

Merovingian age. In part, of course, this conclusion would appear 

self-evident, given the prominence of Arthur. But it also rests on 

specific indications provided by the Grail romances themselves. The 

(Zueste del Saint 

Graal, for example, composed between 1215 and 1230, declares explicitly 

that the events of the Grail story occurred precisely 454 years after 

the resurrection of Jesus. 3z Assuming Jesus died in A.D. 33, the Grail 

saga would thus have enacted itself in A.D. 487 during the first flush 


Merovingian power, and a mere nine years before the baptism of Clovis. 

There was nothing revolutionary or controversial, therefore, in 

connecting the Grail romances with the Merovingian age. None the less 

question of emphasis which, because of Arthur, has been placed 

primarily on Britain. As a result of this distinctly British emphasis, 

we had not automatically associated the Grail with the Merovingian 

dynasty. And yet Wolfram insists that 

Arthur's court is at Nantes and that his poem is set in France. The 

same assertion is made by other Grail romances the Queste del Saint 

Graal, for instance. And there are medieval traditions which maintain 

the Grail was not brought to Britain by Joseph of Arimathea, but to 

France by the 


We now began to wonder whether the pre-eminence assigned to Britain by 

commentators on the Grail romances had not perhaps been misplaced, 33 

and whether the romances in fact referred primarily to events on the 

continent more particularly to events in France. And we began to 

suspect that the 

Grail itself, the "blood royal', actually referred to the blood royal of the Merovingian 

dynasty a blood which was deemed to be sacred and invested with-magical or miraculous 


Perhaps the Grail romances constituted, at least in part, a symbolic or 

allegorical account of certain events of the Merovingian epoch. And 


perhaps we had already encountered some of those events in the course 

of our investigation. A marriage with some special family, for 

example, which, shrouded by time, engendered the legends attending the 

dual paternity of Merovee. Or perhaps, in the 

Grail family, a representation of the clandestine perpetuation of the 

Merovingian bloodline les rois perdus or "lost kings' in the mountains and caves of the 

Razes. Or perhaps that bloodline's exile in England during the late ninth and early tenth 

centuries. And the secret but august dynastic alliances whereby the Merovingian vine, 

like that of the Grail family, eventually bore fruit in Godfroi de Bouillon and the house of 


Perhaps Arthur himself the "bear' was only incidentally related to 


Celtic or Gallo-Roman chieftain. Perhaps the Arthur in the Grail romances was really 

"Ursus' another name for "bear'. Perhaps the legendary Arthur in the chronicles of 

Geoffrey of Monmouth had been appropriated by writers on the Grail and deliberately 

transformed into the vehicle for a quite different, and secret, tradition. If so, this would 

explain why the Templars -established by the Prieure de Sion as guardians of the 

Merovingian bloodline were declared to be guardians of the Grail and the Grail family. 

If the Grail family and the Merovingian bloodline were one and the 

same, the 

Templars would indeed have been the guardians of the Grail at the time, 

more or less, that the Grail romances were composed. Their presence in 


Grail romances would not, therefore, have been anachronistic. 

The hypothesis was intriguing, but it raised one extremely crucial 

question. The romances may have been set in Merovingian times, but 

they linked the Grail quite explicitly to the origins of Christianity 


Jesus, to Joseph of Arimathea, to the Magdalene. Some of them, in 

fact, go even further. In Robert de Boron's poem, Galahad is said to 

be Joseph of 

Arimathea's son although the identity of the knight's mother is unclear. 

And the (Zueste del Saint Graal calls Galahad, like Jesus, a scion of 

the house of David, and identifies Galahad with Jesus himself. Indeed, 

the very name Galahad, according to modern scholars, derives from the 

name Gilead, which was deemed a mystical designation for Jesus .34 


If the Grail could be, identified with the Merovingian bloodline, what 

was its connection with Jesus? Why should something so intimately associated with 

Jesus also be associated with the Merovingian epoch?" 

How were we to reconcile the chronological discrepancy the relation 

between something so pertinent to Jesus and events that occurred at 

least four centuries later? How could the Grail refer, on the one 

hand, to the Merovingian age and, on the other, to something brought by 

Joseph of 

Arimathea to England or the Magdalene to France? 

Even on a symbolic level such questions asserted themselves. The 

Grail, for example, pertained in some way to blood. Even without the 

breaking of 

"Sangraal' into "Sang raal', the Grail was said to have been a 

receptacle for Jesus's blood. How could this be related to the 

Merovingians? And why should it be related to them at precisely the 

time it was during the 

Crusades, when Merovingian heads wore the crown of the kingdom of 

Jerusalem, protected by the Order of the Temple and the Prieure de Sion? 

The Grail romances stress the importance of Jesus's blood. They also 

stress a lineage of some kind. And, given such factors as the Grail 

family's culmination in Godfroi de Bouillon, they would seem to pertain 


Merovingian blood. 

Could there possibly be some connection between these two apparently 

discordant elements? Could the blood of Jesus in some way be related 

to the blood royal of the Merovingians? Could the lineage connected 

with the 

Grail, brought into Western Europe shortly after the Crucifixion, be intertwined with the 

lineage of the Merovingians? 

The Need to Synthesise 

At this point we paused to review the evidence at our disposal. It was leading us in a 

startling yet unmistakable direction. But why, we wondered, had this evidence never been 

subpoenaed by scholars before? 

It had certainly been readily available, and for centuries. Why had no 

one, to our knowledge, ever synthesised it and drawn what would seem to 

be fairly obvious, if only speculative, conclusions? Granted, such 

conclusions a few centuries ago would have been rigorously taboo and, 


if published, severely punished. But there had been no such danger 

for at least the last two hundred years. Why, then, had the fragments of the puzzle not 

hitherto been assembled into a coherent whole? 

The answers to these questions, we realised, lay in our own age and the 

modes or habits of thought which characterise it. Since the 


"Enlightenment' of the eighteenth century, the orientation of Western culture and 

consciousness had been towards analysis, rather than synthesis. 

As a result, our age is one of ever increasing specialisation. In accordance with this 

tendency, modern scholarship lays inordinate emphasis on specialisation which, as the 

modern university attests, implies and entails the segregation of knowledge into distinct 

"disciplines'. In consequence, the diverse spheres covered by our inquiry have 

traditionally been segmented into quite separate compartments. In each compartment the 

relevant material has been duly explored and evaluated by specialists, or "experts' in the 

field. But few, if any, of these "experts' have endeavoured to establish a connection 

between their particular field and others that may overlap it. Indeed such "experts' tend 

generally to regard fields other than their own with considerable suspicion spurious at 

worst, at best irrelevant. And eclectic or "interdisciplinary' research is often actively 

discouraged as being, among other things, too speculative. 

There have been numerous treatises on the Grail romances, their origins 

and development, their cultural impact, their literary quality. And 

there have been numerous studies, valid and otherwise, of the Templars 

and the 

Crusades. But few experts on the Grail romances have been historians, 

while fewer still have displayed much interest in the complex, often 

sordid and not very romantic history behind the Templars and the 

Crusades. Similarly historians of the Templars and the Crusades have, 

like all historians, adhered closely to "factual' records and 

documents. The Grail romances have been dismissed as mere fiction, as 

nothing more than a "cultural phenomenon', a species of "by-product' 

generated by the "imagination of the age'. To suggest to such an 

historian that the Grail romances might contain a kernel of historical 


truth would be tantamount to heresy even though Schliemann, more than 

True, various occult writers, proceeding primarily on the basis of 

wishful thinking, have given literal credence to the legends, claiming 

that, in some mystical way, the Templars were custodians of the Grail 

whatever the 

Grail might be. But there has been no serious historical study that 

endeavours to establish any real connection. The Templars are regarded 

as fact, the Grail as fiction, and no association between the two is 

acknowledged possible. And if the Grail romances have thus been 

neglected by scholars and historians of the period in which they were 

written, it is hardly surprising that they have been neglected by 

experts on earlier epochs. Quite simply, it would not occur to a 

specialist in the Merovingian age to suspect that the Grail romances 

might, in any way, shed light on the subject of his study, if, indeed, 

he has any knowledge whatever of the 

Grail romances. But is it not a serious omission that no Merovingian scholar we have 

encountered even makes mention of the Arthurian legends which, chronologically 

speaking, refer to the very epoch in which he claims expertise? 

If historians are unprepared to make such connections, Biblical scholars are even less 

prepared to do so. During the last few decades a welter of books has appeared - 

according to which Jesus was a pacifist, an Essene, a mystic, a Buddhist, a sorcerer, a 

revolutionary, a homosexual, even a mushroom. But despite this plethora of material on 

Jesus and the historical context of the New Testament, not one author, to our knowledge, 

has touched on the question of the Grail. 

Why should he? Why should an expert on 

Biblical history have any interest in, or knowledge of, a spate of fantastic romantic poems 

composed in Western Europe more than a thousand years later? It would seem 

inconceivable that the Grail romances could in any way elucidate the mysteries 

surrounding the New Testament. 

But reality, history and knowledge cannot be segmented and compartmentalised 

according to the arbitrary filing system of the human intellect. And while documentary 

evidence may be hard to come by, it is self-evident that traditions may survive for a 

thousand years, then surface in a written form that does illuminate previous events. 


Certain Irish sagas, for instance, can reveal a great deal about the 

shift from matriarchal to patriarchal society in Ancient Ireland. Without Homer's work, 

composed long after the fact, no one would even have heard of the siege of Troy. And 

War and Peace although written more than half a century later can tell us more than most 

history books, more even than most official documents, about Russia during the 

Napoleonic era. 

Any responsible researcher must, like a detective, pursue whatever clues come to hand, 

however seemingly improbable. One should not dismiss material a priori, out of hand, 

because it threatens to lead into unlikely or unfamiliar territory. The events of the 

Watergate scandal, for instance, were reconstructed initially from a multitude of ostensibly 

disparate fragments, each meaningless in itself, and with no apparent connection between 

them. Indeed, some of the often childish "dirty tricks' must have seemed, to investigators 

at the time, as divorced from the broader issues as the Grail romances might seem from 

the New Testament. And the Watergate scandal was confined to a single country and a 

time-span of a few short years. The subject of our investigation encompasses the whole 

of Western culture, and a time-span of two millennia. 

What is necessary is an interdisciplinary approach to one's chosen material - a mobile and 

flexible approach that permits one to move freely between disparate disciplines, across 

space and time. One must be able to link data and make connections between people, 

events and phenomena widely divorced from each other. One must be able to move, as 

necessity dictates, from the third to the twelfth to the seventh to the eighteenth centuries, 

drawing on a varied spectrum of sources early ecclesiastical texts, the Grail romances, 

Merovingian records and chronicles, the writings of Freemasonry. 

In short, one must synthesise for only by such synthesis can one discern the underlying 

continuity, the unified and coherent fabric, which lies at the core of any historical problem. 

Such an approach is neither particularly revolutionary, in principle, nor particularly 


It is rather like taking a tenet of contemporary Church dogma the 

Immaculate Conception, for instance, or the obligatory celibacy of 

priests and using it to illumine early Christianity. In much the same 

way the 


Grail romances may be used to shed some significant light on the New 

Testament on the career and identity of Jesus. 

Finally it is not sufficient to confine oneself exclusively to facts. One must also discern the 

repercussions and ramifications of facts, as those repercussions and ramifications radiate 

through the centuries often in the form of myth and legend. True, the facts themselves 

may be distorted in the process, like an echo reverberating among cliffs. But if the voice 

itself cannot be located, the echo, however distorted, may yet point the way to it. Facts, in 

short, are like pebbles dropped into the pool of history. They disappear quickly, often 

without a trace. But they generate ripples which, if one's perspective is broad enough, 

enable one to pinpoint where the pebble originally fell. Guided by the ripples, one may 

then dive or dredge or adopt whatever approach one wishes. The point is that the ripples 

permit one to locate what might otherwise be irrecoverable. 

It was now becoming apparent to us that everything we had studied during our 

investigation was but a ripple -which, monitored correctly, might direct us to a single stone 

cast into the pool of history two thousand years ago. 

Our Hypothesis 

The Magdalene had figured prominently throughout our inquiry. 

According to certain medieval legends, the Magdalene brought the Holy 

Grail or "Blood 

Royal' into France. The Grail is closely associated with Jesus. And 


Grail, on one level at least, relates in some way to blood -or, more specifically, to a 

bloodline and lineage. The Grail romances are for the most part, however, set in 

Merovingian times. But they were not composed until after Godfroi de Bouillon fictional 

scion of the Grail family and actual scion of the Merovingians was installed, in everything 

but name, as king of Jerusalem. 

If we had been dealing with anyone other than Jesus if we had been 

dealing with a personage such as Alexander, for example, or Julius 

Caesar these fragmentary shreds of evidence alone would have led, 

almost ineluctably, to one glaring self-evident conclusion. We drew 


that conclusion, however controversial and explosive it might be. We 

began to test it at least as a tentative hypothesis. Perhaps the 

Magdalene that elusive woman in the Gospels was in fact Jesus's wife. 

Perhaps their union produced offspring. After the Crucifixion, perhaps 


Magdalene, with at least one child, was smuggled to Gaul where 


Jewish communities already existed and where, in consequence, she might have found a 

refuge. Perhaps there was, in short, an hereditary bloodline descended directly from 

Jesus. Perhaps this bloodline, this supreme sang real; then perpetuated itself, intact and 

incognito, for some four hundred years which is not, after all, a very long time for an 

important lineage. 

Perhaps there were dynastic intermarriages not only with other Jewish families, but with 

Romans and Visigoths as well. And perhaps in the fifth century Jesus's lineage became 

allied with the royal line of the Franks, thereby engendering the Merovingian dynasty. 

If this sketchy hypothesis was in any sense true, it would serve to explain a great many 

elements in our investigation. It would' explain the extraordinary status accorded the 

Magdalene, and the cult significance she attained during the Crusades. It would explain 

the sacred status accorded the Merovingians. It would explain the legendary birth of 

Merovee child of two fathers, one of them a symbolic marine creature from beyond the 

sea, a marine creature which, like Jesus, might be equated with the mystical fish. It would 

explain the pact between the Roman Church and Clovis's bloodline for would not a pact 

with Jesus's lineal descendants be the obvious pact for a church founded in his name? It 

would explain the apparently incommensurate stress laid on the assassination of 

Dagobert II for the Church, by being party to that murder, would have been guilty not only 

of regicide, but, according to its own tenets, of a form of deicide as well. It would explain 

the attempt to eradicate Dagobert from history. 

It would explain the Carolingians' obsession to legitimi se themselves, 

as Holy 

Roman Emperors, by claiming a Merovingian pedigree. 

A bloodline descended from Jesus through Dagobert would also explain 


Grail family in the romances the secrecy which surrounds it, its 

exalted status, the impotent Fisher King unable to rule, the process 


Parzival or Perceval became heir to the Grail castle. 


Finally, it would explain the mystical pedigree of Godfroi de Bouillon 

son or grandson of Lohengrin, grandson or great-grandson of Parzival, scion of the Grail 

family. And if Godfroi were descended from Jesus, his triumphant capture of Jerusalem in 

1099 would have entailed far more than simply rescuing the Holy Sepulchre from the 

infidel. Godfroi would have been reclaiming his own rightful heritage. 

We had already guessed that the references to viticulture throughout our investigation 

symbolised dynastic alliances. On the basis of our hypothesis, viticulture now seemed to 

symbolise the process whereby Jesus who identifies himself repeatedly with the vine 

perpetuated his lineage. As if in confirmation, we discovered a carved door depicting 

Jesus as a cluster of grapes. This door was in Sion, Switzerland. 

Our hypothetical scenario was both logically consistent and intriguing. As yet, however, it 

was also preposterous. Attractive though it might be, it was, as yet, much too sketchy and 

rested on far too flimsy a foundation. 

Although it explained many things, it could not yet in itself be supported. 

There were still too many holes in it, too many inconsistencies and 

anomalies, too many loose ends. Before we could seriously entertain or 

consider it, we would have to determine whether there was any real 

evidence to sustain it. In an attempt to find such evidence we began 

to explore the 

Gospels, the historical context of the New Testament and the writings 


of the early Church fathers. 12 The Priest-King Who Never Ruled 

Most people today speak of "Christianity' as if it were a single 

specific thing a coherent, homogeneous and unified entity. Needless to 


"Christianity' is nothing of the sort. As everyone knows, there are 

numerous forms of "Christianity': Roman Catholicism, for example, or 

the Church of 

England initiated by Henry VIII. There are the various other denominations of 

Protestantism from the original Lutheranism and Calvinism of the sixteenth century to 

such relatively recent developments as Unitarianism. 

There are multitudinous 'fringe' or "evangelical' congregations, such 

as the 

Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses. And there are assorted 

contemporary sects and. cults, like the Children of God and the 


Church of the Reverend Moon. If one surveys this bewildering spectrum 

of beliefs from the rigidly dogmatic and conservative to the radical 

and ecstatic it is difficult to determine what exactly constitutes 


If there is a single factor that does permit one to speak of 

Christianity', a single factor that does link the otherwise diverse and 


"Christian' creeds, it is the New Testament, and more particularly the 

unique status ascribed by the New Testament to Jesus, his Crucifixion 


Resurrection. Even if one does not subscribe to the literal or historical truth of those 

events, acceptance of their symbolic significance generally suffices for one to be 

considered a Christian. 

If there is any unity, then, in the diffuse phenomenon called 

Christianity, it resides in the New Testament and, more specifically, 

in the accounts of Jesus known as the Four Gospels. These accounts are 

popularly regarded as the most authoritative on record: and for many 

Christians they are assumed to be both coherent and unimpugnable. From 


childhood one is led to believe that the "story' of Jesus, as it is 

preserved in the Four Gospels, is, if not Godinspired, at least definitive. The four 

evangelists, supposed authors of the Gospels, are deemed to be unimpeachable 

witnesses who reinforce and confirm each other's testimony. Of the people who today call 

themselves Christians, relatively few are aware of the fact that the Four Gospels not only 

contradict each other, but, at times, violently disagree. 

So far as popular tradition is concerned, the origin and birth of Jesus are well enough 

known. But in reality the Gospels, on which that tradition is based, are considerably more 

vague on the matter. Only two of the Gospels -Matthew and Luke say anything at all 

about Jesus's origins and birth; and they are flagrantly at odds with each other. According 

to Matthew, for example, Jesus was an aristocrat, if not a rightful and legitimate king - 

descended from David via Solomon. 

According to Luke, on the other hand, 

Jesus's family, though descended from the house of David, was of somewhat less exalted 

stock; and it is on the basis of Mark's account that the legend of the 'poor carpenter' came 

into being. The two genealogies, in short, are so strikingly discordant that they might well 

be referring to two quite different individuals. 

The discrepancies between the Gospels are not confined to the question 


Jesus's ancestry and genealogy. According to Luke, Jesus, on his birth, was visited by 

shepherds. According to Matthew, he was visited by kings. 

According to Luke, Jesus's family lived in Nazareth. From here they are said to have 

journeyed for a census which history suggests never in fact occurred to Bethlehem, where 

Jesus was born in the poverty of a manger. 

But according to Matthew, Jesus's family had been fairly well-to-do 

residents of Bethlehem all along, and Jesus himself was born in a 

house. In 

Matthew's version Herod's persecution of the innocents prompts the 

family to flee into Egypt, and only on their return do they make their 

home in 


The information in each of these accounts is quite specific and 

assuming the census did occur perfectly plausible. And yet the 

information itself simply does not agree. This contradiction cannot be 

rationalised. There is no possible means whereby the two conflicting 


narratives can both be correct, and there is no means whereby they can 

be reconciled. Whether one cares to admit it or not, the fact must be recognised that one 

or both of the Gospels is wrong. In the face of so glaring and inevitable a conclusion, the 

Gospels cannot be regarded as unimpugnable. How can they be unimpugnable when 

they impugn each other? 

The more one studies the Gospels, the more the contradictions between 

them become apparent. Indeed they do not even agree on the day of 


Crucifixion. According to John's Gospel, the Crucifixion occurred on 

the day before the Passover. According to the Gospels of Mark, Luke 


Matthew, it occurred on the day after. Nor are the Gospels in accord 

on the personality and character of Jesus. Each depicts a figure who. 

is patently at odds with the figure depicted in the others a meek 

lamblike saviour in 

Luke, for example, a powerful and majestic sovereign in Matthew who 

comes "not to bring peace but a sword'. And there is further 

disagreement about 

Jesus's last words on the cross. In Matthew and Mark these words are, 


God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" In Luke they are, "Father, into thy hands I 

commend my spirit." And in John, they are simply, "It is finished." 

Given these discrepancies, the Gospels can only be accepted as a highly 

questionable authority, and certainly not as definitive. They do not 

represent the perfect word of any God; or, if they do, God's words have 

been very liberally censored, edited, revised, glossed and rewritten by 

human hands. The Bible, it must be remembered and this applies to both 

the Old and New Testaments is only a selection of works, and, in many 

respects, a somewhat arbitrary one. In fact, it could well include far 

more books and writings than it actually does. Nor is there any 

question of the missing books having been "lost'. On the contrary they 

were deliberately excluded. In A.D. 367 Bishop Athanasius of 

Alexandria compiled a list of works to be included in the New 

Testament. This list was ratified by the 

Church Council of Hippo in 393 and again by the Council of Carthage four years later. At 

these councils a selection was agreed upon. 

Certain works were assembled to form the New Testament as we know it 

today, and others were cavalierly ignored. How can such a process of 

selection possibly be regarded as definitive? How could a conclave of 


clerics infallibly decide that certain books "belonged' in the Bible 

while others did not? Especially when some of the excluded books have a perfectly valid 

claim to historical veracity? 

As it exists today, moreover, the Bible is not only a product of a more 

or less arbitrary selective process. It has also been subjected to 

some fairly drastic editing, censorship and revision. In 1958, for 

example, Professor 

Morton Smith of Columbia University discovered, in a monastery near 

Jerusalem, a letter which contained a missing fragment of the Gospel 


Mark. The missing fragment had not been lost. On the contrary, it had apparently been 

deliberately suppressed at the instigation, if not the express behest, of Bishop Clement of 

Alexandria, one of the most venerated of the early Church fathers. 

Clement, it seems had received a letter from one Theodore, who 

complained of a Gnostic sect, the Carpocratians. The Carpocratians 

appear to have been interpreting certain passages of the Gospel of Mark 

in accordance with their own principles principles that did not concur 

with the position of 

Clement and Theodore. In consequence, Theodore apparently attacked 

them and reported his action to Clement. In the letter found by 

Professor Smith, 

Clement replies to his disciple as follows: 

You did well in silencing the unspeakable teachings of the Carpocratians. 

For these are the "wandering stars' referred to in the prophecy, who wander from the 

narrow road of the commandments into a boundless abyss of the carnal and bodily sins. 

For, priding themselves in knowledge, as they say, "of the deep [things] of Satan', they do 

not know that they are casting themselves away into "the nether world of the darkness' of 

falsity, and, boasting that they are free, they have become slaves of servile desires. 

Such [men} are to be opposed in all ways and altogether. For, even if 

they should say something true, one who loves the truth should not, 

even so, agree with them. For not all true [things] are the truth, nor 

should that truth which [merely] seems true according to human opinions 


be preferred to the true truth, that according to the faitlri It is an 

extraordinary statement for a Church father. In effect Clement is saying nothing less than, 

"If your opponent happens to tell the truth, you must deny it and lie in order to refute him." 

But that is not all. In the following passage, Clement's letter goes on to discuss Mark's 

Gospel and its "misuse', in his eyes, by the Carpocratians: 

lAs for] Mark, then, during Peter's stay in Rome he wrote Ian account of] the Lord's 

doings; not, however, declaring all [of them], nor yet hinting at the secret [ones], but 

selecting those he thought most useful for increasing the faith of those who were being 

instructed. But when Peter died as a martyr, Mark came over to Alexandria, bringing both 

his own notes and those of Peter, from which he transferred to his former book the things 

suitable to whatever makes for progress towards knowledge [gnosis]. [Thus] he 

composed a more spiritual Gospel for the use of those who were being perfected. 

Nevertheless, he yet did not divulge the things not to be uttered, nor did he write down the 

hierophantic teaching of the Lord, but to the stories already written he added yet others 

and, moreover, brought in certain sayings of which he knew the interpretation would, as a 

mystagogue, lead the hearers into the innermost sanctuary of that truth hidden by seven 

[veils]. Thus, in sum, he prearranged matters, neither grudgingly nor incautiously, in my 

opinion, and, dying, he left his composition to the church in Alexandria, where it even yet 

is most carefully guarded, being read only to those who are being initiated into the great 


But since the foul demons are always devising destruction for the race 

of men, Carpocrates, instructed by them and using deceitful arts, so 

enslaved a certain presbyter of the church in Alexandria that he got 

from him a copy of the secret Gospel, which he both interpreted 

according to his blasphemous and carnal doctrine and, moreover, 

polluted, mixing with the spotless and holy words utterly shameless 

lies. 2 

Clement thus freely acknowledges that there is an authentic secret 

Gospel of 

Mark. He then instructs Theodore to deny it: 


To them [the Carpocratians], therefore, as I said above, one must 
never give way, nor, when they put forward their falsifications, should one concede that 
the secret Gospel is by Mark, but should even deny it on oath. 
For "not all true [things] are to be said to all men'. 3 

What was this "secret Gospel' that Clement ordered his disciple to repudiate and that the 
Carpocratians were 'misinterpreting'? Clement answers the question by including a word- 
for-word transcription of the text in his letter: 

To you, therefore, I shall not hesitate to answer the [questions] you have asked, refuting 
the falsifications by the very words of the Gospel. For example after "And they were in the 
road going up to Jerusalem," and what follows, until "After three days he shall arise', [the 
secret Gospel] brings the following [material] word for word: 
"And they come into Bethany, and a certain woman, whose brother had 
died, was there. And, coming, she prostrated herself before Jesus and 
says to him, "Son of David, have mercy on me". But the disciples 
rebuked her. And 

Jesus, being angered, went off with her into the garden where the tomb 
was, and straightway a great cry was heard from the tomb. And going 

Jesus rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb. And 
straightway, going in where the youth was, he stretched forth his hand 
and raised him, seizing his hand. But the youth, looking upon him, 
loved him and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And 
going out of the tomb they came into the house of the youth, for he was 
rich. And after six days, Jesus told him what to do and in the 
eveining the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over [his] naked 
[body]. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the 
mystery of the kingdom of God. And thence arising, he returned to the 
other side of the Jordan. 1 4 

This episode appears in no existing version of the Gospel of Mark. In 
its general outlines, however, it is familiar enough. It is, of 
course, the raising of Lazarus, described in the Fourth Gospel, 
ascribed to John. In the version quoted, however, there are some 


significant variations. In the first place there is a "great cry' 

from the tomb before 

Jesus rolls the rock aside or instructs the occupant to come forth. This strongly suggests 

that the occupant was not dead and thereby, at a single stroke, contravenes any element 

of the miraculous. In the second place there would clearly seem to be something more 

involved than accepted accounts of the Lazarus episode lead one to believe. Certainly 

the passage quoted attests to some special relation between the man in the tomb and the 

man who "resurrects' him. A modern reader might perhaps be tempted to see a hint of 

homosexuality. It is possible that the Carpocratians - a sect who aspired to 

transcendence of the senses by means of satiation of the senses discerned precisely such 

a hint. But, as Professor Smith argues, it is in fact much more likely that the whole 

episode refers to a typical mystery school initiation a ritualised and symbolic death and 

rebirth of the sort so prevalent in the Middle East at the time. 

In any case the point is that the episode, and the passage quoted above, do not appear in 

any modern or accepted version of Mark. 

Indeed, the only references to Lazarus or a Lazarus figure in the New 

Testament are in the 

Gospel ascribed to John. It is thus clear that Clement's advice was accepted not only by 

Theodore, but by subsequent authorities as well. 

Quite simply the entire Lazarus incident was completely excised from 


Gospel of Mark. 

If Mark's Gospel was so drastically expurgated, it was also burdened 

with spurious' additions. In its original version it ends with the 

Crucifixion, the burial and the empty tomb. There is no Resurrection 

scene, no reunion with the disciples. Granted, there are certain 

modern Bibles which do contain a more conventional ending to the Gospel 

of Mark an ending which does include the Resurrection. But virtually 

all modern Biblical scholars concur that this expanded ending is a 

later addition, dating from the late second century and appended to the 

original document.5 

The Gospel of Mark thus provides two instances of a sacred document supposedly 

inspired by God which has been tampered with, edited, censored, revised by human 

hands. Nor are these two cases speculative. On the contrary, they are now accepted by 

scholars as demonstrable and proven. 


Can one then suppose that Mark's Gospel was unique in being subjected 

to alteration? Clearly if Mark's 

Gospel was so readily doctored, it is reasonable to assume that the 


Gospels were similarly treated. 

For the purposes of our investigation, then, we could not accept the 

Gospels as definitive and unimpugnable authority, but, at the same time 

we could not discard them. They were certainly not wholly fabricated, 

and they furnished some of the few clues available to what really 

happened in the 

Holy Land two thousand years ago. We therefore undertook to look more closely, to 

winnow through them, to disengage fact from fable, to separate the truth they contained 

from the spurious matrix in which that truth was often embedded. And in order to do this 

effectively, we were first obliged to familia rise ourselves with the historical reality and 

circumstances of the Holy Land at the advent of the Christian era. For the Gospels are 

not autonomous entities, conjured out of the void and floating, eternal and universal, over 

the centuries. They are historical documents, like any other like the Dead Sea Scrolls, the 

epics of Homer and Virgil, the Grail romances. They are products of a very specific place, 

a very specific time, a very specific people and very specific historical factors. 

Palestine at the Time of Jesus 

Palestine in the first century was a very troubled corner of the globe. 

For some time the Holy Land had been fraught with dynastic squabbles, 

internecine strife and, on occasion, full-scale war. During the second 

century B.C. a more or less unified Judaic kingdom was transiently 

established as chronicled by the two Apocryphal Books of Maccabees. By 


B.C." however, the land was in upheaval again, and ripe for conquest. 

More than half a century before Jesus's birth, Palestine fell to the 

armies of Pompey, and Roman rule was imposed. But Rome at the time was 

over-extended, and too preoccupied with her own affairs, to install the 

administrative apparatus necessary for direct rule. She therefore 

created a line of puppet kings to rule under her aegis. This line was 

that of the 


Herodians who were not Jewish, but Arab. The first of the line was 
Antipater, who assumed the throne of Palestine in 63 B.C. On his death in 37 B.C." he 
was succeeded by his son, Herod the Great, who ruled until 4 B.C. One must visualise, 
then, a situation analogous to that of France under the Vichy government between 1940 
and 1944. One must visualise a conquered land and a conquered people, ruled by a 
puppet regime which was kept in power by military force. The people of the country were 
allowed to retain their own religion and customs. 


But the final authority was Rome. This authority was implemented according to Roman 



In A.D. 6 the situation became more critical. In this year the country was split 

administratively into two provinces, Judaea and Galilee. 


Antipas became king of the latter. But Judaea the spiritual and 

secular capital -was rendered subject to direct Roman rule, 

administered by a Roman 

Procurator based at Caesarea. The Roman regime was brutal and autocratic. 

When it assumed direct control of Judaea more than three thousand rebels were 

summarily crucified. The Temple was plundered and defiled. 

Heavy taxation was imposed. Torture was frequently employed, and many 

of the populace committed suicide. This state of affairs was not 

improved by 

Pontius Pilate, who presided as procurator of Judaea from A.D. 26 to 

36. In contrast to the Biblical portraits of him, existing records 

indicate that 

Pilate was a cruel and corrupt man, who not only perpetuated, but intensified, the abuses 

of his predecessor. It is thus all the more surprising at least on first glance that there 

should be no criticism of Rome in the Gospels, no mention even of the burden of the 

Roman yoke. 

Indeed the Gospel accounts suggest that the inhabitants of Judaea were placid and 

contented with their lot. 

In point of fact very few were contented, and many were far from placid. 

The Jews in the Holy Land at the time could be loosely divided into 

several sects and sub sects There were, for example, the Sadducees a 

small but wealthy land-owning class who, to the anger of their 

compatriots, collaborated, Quisling-fashion, with the Romans. There 

were the Pharisees - a progressive group who introduced much reform 

into Judaism and who, despite the portrait of them in the Gospels, 




Map 9 Palestine at the Time of Jesus 

I I 

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themselves in staunch, albeit largely passive, opposition to Rome. 

There were the Essenes an austere, mystically oriented sect, whose 

teachings were much more prevalent and influential than is generally 

acknowledged or supposed. Among the smaller sects and sub-sects there 

were many whose precise character has long been lost to history, and 

which, therefore, are difficult to define. It is worth citing the 

Nazorites, however, of whom 

Samson, centuries before, had been a member, and who were still in 

existence during Jesus's time. And it is worth citing the Nazoreans or 

Nazarenes a term which seems to have been applied to Jesus and his 

followers. Indeed the original Greek version of the New Testament 

refers to Jesus as "Jesus the 

Nazarene' which is mistranslated in English as " esus of Nazareth'. 

"Nazarene', in short, is a specifically sectarian word and has no connection with Nazareth. 

There were numerous other groups and sects as well, one of which proved 

of particular relevance to our inquiry. In A.D. 6, when Rome assumed 

direct control of Judaea, a Pharisee rabbi known as Judas of Galilee 

had created a highly militant revolutionary group composed, it would 

appear, of both 

Pharisees and Essenes. This following became known as Zealots. The 

Zealots were not, strictly speaking, a sect. They were a movement, 

whose membership was drawn from a number of sects. By the time of 

Jesus's mission, the 

Zealots had assumed an increasingly prominent role in the Holy Land's 

affairs. Their activities formed perhaps the most important political 

backdrop against which Jesus's drama enacted itself. Long after the 

Crucifixion, Zealot activity continued unabated. By A.D. 44 this activity had so intensified 

that some sort of armed struggle already seemed inevitable. In A.D. 66 the struggle 

erupted, the whole of Judaea rising in organised revolt against Rome. It was a desperate, 

tenacious but ultimately futile conflict reminiscent in certain respects of, say, Hungary in 


At Caesarea alone 20,000 Jews were massacred by the Romans. Within 

four years Roman legions had occupied Jerusalem, razed the city, and 

sacked and plundered the Temple. Nevertheless the mountain fortress of 

Masada held out for yet another three years, commanded by a lineal 

descendant of Judas of 



The aftermath of the revolt in Judaea witnessed a massive exodus of 

Jews from the Holy Land. Nevertheless enough remained to foment 

another rebellion some sixty years later in A.D. 132. At last, in 135, 

the Emperor Hadrian decreed that all Jews be expelled by law from 

Judaea, and Jerusalem became essentially a Roman city. It was renamed 



Jesus's lifetime spanned roughly the first thirty-five years of a turmoil extending over 140 

years. The turmoil did not cease with his death, but continued for another century. And it 

engendered the psychological and cultural adjuncts inevitably attending any such 

sustained defiance of an oppressor. One of these adjuncts was the hope and longing for 

a Messiah who would deliver his people from the tyrant's yoke. It was only by virtue of 

historical and semantic accident that this term came to be applied specifically and 

exclusively to Jesus. 

For Jesus's contemporaries, no Messiah would ever have been regarded as 

divine. Indeed the very idea of a divine Messiah would have been 

preposterous if not unthinkable. The Greek word for Messiah is 

"Christ' or 

"Christos'. The term whether in Hebrew or Greek -meant simply "the 

anointed one' and generally referred to a king. Thus David, when he 

was anointed king in the Old Testament, became, quite explicitly, a 

"Messiah' or a "Christ'. And every subsequent Jewish king of the house 

of David was known by the same appellation. Even during the Roman 

occupation of Judaea, the Roman-appointed high priest was known as the 

"Priest Messiah' or 

"Priest Christ'." 

For the Zealots, however, and for other opponents of Rome, this puppet priest was, of 

necessity, a "false Messiah'. For them the "true Messiah' implied something very different 

the legitimate roi perdu or "lost king', the unknown descendant of the house of David who 

would deliver his people from Roman tyranny. During Jesus's lifetime anticipation of the 

coming of such a Messiah attained a pitch verging on mass hysteria. And this anticipation 

continued after Jesus's death. 

Indeed the revolt of A.D. 66 was prompted in large part by Zealot 

agitation and propaganda on behalf of a 

Messiah whose advent was said to be imminent. 

The term "Messiah', then, implied nothing in any way divine. Strictly 


defined, it meant nothing more than an anointed king; and in the 

popular mind it came to mean an anointed king who would also be a 

liberator. In other words, it was a term with specifically political 

connotations something quite different from the later Christian idea of 

a "Son of God'. It was this mundane political term that was applied to 

Jesus. He was called "Jesus the Messiah' or translated into Greek 

"Jesus the Christ'. Only later was this designation contracted to 


Christ' and a purely functional title distorted into a proper name. 

The History of the Gospels 

The Gospels issued from a recognisable and concrete historical reality. It was a reality of 

oppression, of civic and social discontent, of political unrest, of incessant persecution and 

intermittent rebellion. It was also a reality suffused with perpetual and tantalising 

promises, hopes and dreams that a rightful king would appear, a spiritual and secular 

leader who would deliver his people into freedom. So far as political freedom was 

concerned, such aspirations were brutally extinguished by the devastating war between 

A.D. 66 and 74. Transposed into a wholly religious form, however, the aspirations were 

not only perpetuated by the Gospels, but given a powerful new impetus. 

Modern scholars are unanimous in concurring that the Gospels do not date from Jesus ;s 

lifetime. For the most part they date from the period between the two major revolts in 

Judaea - 66 to 74 and 132 to 135 although they are almost certainly based on earlier 

accounts. These earlier accounts may have included written documents since lost for 

there was a wholesale destruction of records in the wake of the first rebellion. But there 

would certainly have been oral traditions as well. Some of these were undoubtedly 

grossly exaggerated and/or distorted, received and transmitted at second, third or fourth 

hand. Others, however, may have derived from individuals who were alive in Jesus's 

lifetime and may even have known him personally. 

A young man at the time of the Crucifixion might well have been alive when the Gospels 

were composed. 


The earliest of the Gospels is generally considered to be Mark's, 

composed sometime during the revolt of 66-74 or shortly thereafter 

except for its treatment of the Resurrection, which is a later and 

spurious addition. Although not himself one of Jesus's original 


companion of 

Saint Paul, and his Gospel bears an unmistakable stamp of Pauline thought. 

But if Mark was a native of Jerusalem, his Gospel as Clement of 

Alexandria states was composed in Rome, and addressed to a Greco Roman 

audience. This, in itself, explains a great deal. At the time that 

Mark's Gospel was composed, Judaea was, or had recently been, in open 

revolt, and thousands of 

Jews were being crucified for rebellion against the Roman regime. If 

Mark wished his Gospel to survive and impress itself on a Roman 

audience, he could not possibly present Jesus as anti-Roman. Indeed, 

he could not feasibly present Jesus as politically oriented at all. In 

order to ensure the survival of his message, he would have been obliged 

to exonerate the 

Romans of all guilt for Jesus's death to whitewash the existing and entrenched regime and 

blame the death of the Messiah on certain Jews. 

This device was adopted not only by the authors of the other Gospels, 

but by the early Christian Church as well. Without such a device 

neither Gospels nor 

Church would have survived. 

The Gospel of Luke is dated by scholars at around A.D. 80. Luke himself appears to have 

been a Greek doctor, who composed his work for a high-ranking Roman official at 

Caesarea, the Roman capital of Palestine. 

For Luke, too, therefore, it would have been necessary to placate and 

appease the Romans and transfer the blame elsewhere. By the time the 

Gospel of Matthew was composed approximately A.D. 85 such a 

transference seems to have been accepted as an established fact and 

gone unquestioned. More than half of Matthew's Gospel, in fact, is 

derived directly from Mark's, although it was composed originally in 

Greek and reflects specifically 

Greek characteristics. The author seems to have been a Jew, quite 

possibly a refugee from Palestine. He is not to be confused with the 

disciple named 

Matthew, who would have lived much earlier and would probably have known only 


The Gospels of Mark, Luke and Matthew are known collectively as the 

"Synoptic Gospels', implying that they see "eye to eye' or "with one 


eye' which of course, they do not. Nevertheless there is enough 

overlap between them to suggest that they derived from a single common source -either 

an oral tradition or some other document subsequently lost. This distinguishes them from 

the Gospel of John, which betrays significantly different origins. 

Nothing whatever is known about the author of the Fourth Gospel. 

Indeed there is no reason to assume his name was John. Except for John 


Baptist, the name John is mentioned at no point in the Gospel itself, and its attribution to a 

man called John is generally accepted as later tradition. The Fourth Gospel is the latest of 

those in the New Testament composed around A.D. 100 in the vicinity of the Greek city of 

Ephesus. It displays a number of quite distinctive features. There is no nativity scene, for 

example, no description whatever of Jesus's birth, and the opening is almost Gnostic in 

character. The text is of a decidedly more mystical nature than the other Gospels, and the 

content differs as well. 

The other Gospels, for instance, concentrate primarily on Jesus's 

activities in the northern province of Galilee and reflect what appears 

to be only a second- or third-hand knowledge of events to the south, in 

Judaea and Jerusalem including the Crucifixion. The Fourth Gospel, in 

contrast, says relatively little about Galilee. It dwells exhaustively 

on the events in Judaea and Jerusalem which concluded Jesus's career, 

and its account of the Crucifixion may well rest ultimately on some 

first-hand eye-witness testimony. It also contains a number of 

episodes and incidents which do not figure in the other Gospels at all 

the wedding at Cana, the roles of 

Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, and the raising of Lazarus (although 

the last was once included in Mark's Gospel). On the basis of such 

factors modern scholars have suggested that the Gospel of John, despite 

its late composition, may well be the most reliable and historically 

accurate of the four. More than the other Gospels, it seems to draw 

upon traditions current among contemporaries of Jesus, as well as other 

material unavailable to 

Mark, Luke and Matthew. One modern researcher points out that it 

reflects an apparently first-hand topographical knowledge of Jerusalem 

prior to the revolt of A.D. 66. The same author concludes, "Behind the 

Fourth Gospel lies an ancient tradition independent of the other 

Gospels." This is not an isolated opinion. In fact, it is the most 


prevalent in modern Biblical scholarship. According to another 

writer, "The Gospel of 

John, though not adhering to the Markian chronological framework and 

being much later in date, appears to know a tradition concerning Jesus 

that must be primitive and authentic."e 

On the basis of our own research we, too, concluded that the Fourth Gospel was the most 

reliable of the books in the New Testament even though it, like the others, had been 

subjected to doctoring, editing, expurgation and revision. In our inquiry we had occasion 

to drew upon all four Gospels, and much collateral material as well. But it was in the 

Fourth Gospel that we found the most persuasive evidence for our, as yet, tentative 


The Marital Status of Jesus 

It was not our intention to discredit the Gospels. We sought only to winnow through them 

to locate certain fragments of possible or probable truth and extract them from the matrix 

of embroidery surrounding them. We were seeking fragments, moreover, of a very 

precise character fragments that might attest to a marriage between Jesus and the 

woman known as the Magdalene. 

Such attestations, needless to say, would not be explicit. In order to find them, we 

realised, we would be obliged to read between the lines, fill in certain gaps, account for 

certain caesuras and ellipses. We would have to deal with omissions, with innuendoes, 

with references that were, at best, oblique. And we would not only have to look for 

evidence of a marriage. We would also have to look for evidence of circumstances that 

might have been conducive to a marriage. Our inquiry would thus have to encompass a 

number of distinct but closely related questions. We began with the most obvious of them. 

1 ) Is there any evidence in the Gospels, direct or indirect, to suggest that Jesus was 

indeed married? 

There is, of course, no explicit statement to the effect that he was. 

On the other hand, there is no explicit statement to the effect that he 

was not and iris is both more curious and more significant than it 

might first appear. As Dr. Geza Vermes of Oxford University points 


out, "There is complete silence in the Gospels concerning the marital 

status of Jesus .. . Such a state of affairs is sufficiently unusual in 

ancient Jewry to prompt further enquiry. "9 

The Gospels state that many of the disciples Peter, for example were married. And at no 

point does Jesus himself advocate celibacy. On the contrary, in the Gospel of Matthew he 

declares, "Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male 

and female .. . For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his 

wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?" (19:4-5J Such a statement can hardly be 

reconciled with an injunction to celibacy. And if Jesus did not preach celibacy, there is no 

reason either to suppose that he practised it. 

According to Judaic custom at the time it was not only usual, but almost mandatory, that a 

man be married. Except among certain Essenes in certain communities, celibacy was 

vigorously condemned. During the late first century, one Jewish writer even compared 

deliberate celibacy with murder, and he does not seem to have been alone in this attitude. 

And it was as obligatory for a Jewish father to find a wife for his son as it was to ensure 

that his son be circumcised. 

If Jesus were not married, this fact would have been glaringly conspicuous. 

It would have drawn attention to itself, and been used to characterise 

and identify him. It would have set him apart, in some significant 

sense, from his contemporaries. If this were the case, surely one at 

least of the 

Gospel accounts would make some mention of so marked a deviation from custom? If 

Jesus were indeed as celibate as later tradition claims, it is extraordinary that there is no 

reference to any such celibacy. The absence of any such reference strongly suggests 

that Jesus, as far as the question of celibacy was concerned, conformed to the 

conventions of his time and culture -suggests, in short, that he was married. This alone 

would satisfactorily explain the silence of the Gospels on the matter. The argument is 

summarised by a respected contemporary theological scholar: 

Granted the cultural background as witnessed .. . it is highly improbable that Jesus was 

not married well before the beginning of his public ministry. 

If he had insisted upon celibacy, it would have created a stir, a 


reaction which would have left some trace. So, the lack of mention 


Jesus's marriage in the Gospels is a strong argument not against but for the hypothesis of 

marriage, because any practice or advocacy of voluntary celibacy would in the Jewish 

context of the time have been so unusual as to have attracted much attention and 


The hypothesis of marriage becomes all the more tenable by virtue of the title of "Rabbi', 

which is frequently applied to Jesus in the Gospels. It is possible, of course, that this term 

is employed in its very broadest sense, meaning simply a self-appointed teacher. -But 

Jesus's literacy his display of knowledge to the elders in the Temple, for example strongly 

suggests that he was more than a self-appointed teacher. It suggests that he underwent 

some species of formal rabbinical training and was officially recognised as a rabbi. This 

would conform to tradition, which depicts Jesus as a rabbi in the strict sense of the word. 

But if Jesus was a rabbi in the strict sense of the word, a marriage would not only have 

been likely, but virtually certain. The Jewish Mishnaic Law is quite explicit on the subject: 

"An unmarried man may not be a teacher."" 

In the Fourth Gospel there is an episode related to a marriage which 

may, in fact, have been Jesus's own. This episode is, of course, the 

wedding at 

Cana - a familiar enough story. But for all its familiarity, there are certain salient questions 

attending it which warrant consideration. 

From the account in the Fourth Gospel, the wedding at Cana would seem to be a modest 

local ceremony a typical village wedding, whose bride and groom remain anonymous. To 

this wedding Jesus is specifically "called' which is slightly curious perhaps, for he has not 

yet really embarked on his ministry. More curious still, however, is the fact that his mother 

"just happens', as it were, to be present. And her presence would seem to be taken for 

granted. It is certainly not in any way explained. 

What is more, it is Mary who not merely suggests to her son, but in 

effect orders him, to replenish the wine. She behaves quite as if she 

were the hostess: "And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus with 

unto him, 


They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do 

with thee? mine hour is not yet come." (John 2:3-4) But 

Mary, thoroughly unperturbed, ignores her son's protest: 

"His mother saith unto the servants, "Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it." (5) And the 

servants promptly comply quite as if they were accustomed to receiving orders from both 

Mary and Jesus. 

Despite Jesus's ostensible attempt to disown her, Mary prevails; and 

Jesus thereupon performs his first major miracle, the transmutation of 

water into wine. So far as the Gospels are concerned, he has not 

hitherto displayed his powers; and there is no reason for Mary to 

assume he even possesses them. But even if there were, why should such 

unique and holy gifts be employed for so banal a purpose? Why should 

Mary make such a request of her son? More important still, why should 

two "guests' at a wedding take on themselves the responsibility of 

catering a responsibility that, by custom, should be reserved for the 

host? Unless, of course, the wedding at 

Cana is Jesus's own wedding. In that case, it would indeed be his responsibility to 

replenish the wine. 

There is further evidence that the wedding at Cana is in fact Jesus's own. 

Immediately after the miracle has been performed, the "governor of the feast' - a kind of 

majordomo or master of ceremonies tastes the newly produced wine, "the governor of the 

feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth 

good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept 

the good wine until now." (John 2:9-10; our italics.) These words would clearly seem to be 

addressed to Jesus. According to the Gospel, however, they are addressed to the 

'bridegroom'. An obvious conclusion is that Jesus and the 'bridegroom' are one and the 


The Wife of Jesus 

2) If Jesus was married, is there any indication in the Gospels of the 

identity of his wife? 

On first consideration there would appear to be two possible candidates 


two women, apart from his mother, who are mentioned repeatedly in the 

Gospels as being of his entourage. The first of these is the Magdalene or, more precisely, 

Mary from the village of Migdal, or Magdala, in Galilee. In all four Gospels this woman's 

role is singularly ambiguous and seems to have been deliberately obscured. In the 

accounts of Mark and Matthew she is not mentioned by name until quite late. 

When she does appear it is in Judaea, at the time of the Crucifixion, 

and she is numbered among Jesus's followers. In the Gospel of Luke, 

however, she appears relatively early in Jesus 's ministry, while he is 

still preaching in Galilee. It would thus seem that she accompanies 

him from Galilee to 

Judaea or, if not, that she at least moves between the two provinces as readily as he 

does. This in itself strongly suggests that she was married to someone. In the Palestine 

of Jesus's time it would have been unthinkable for an unmarried woman to travel 

unaccompanied -and, even more so, to travel unaccompanied with a religious teacher and 

his entourage. A number of traditions seem to have taken cognisance of this potentially 

embarrassing fact. 

Thus it is sometimes claimed that the Magdalene was married to one of 

Jesus's disciples. If that were the case, however, her special relationship with Jesus and 

her proximity to him would have rendered both of them subject to suspicions, if not 

charges, of adultery. 

Popular tradition notwithstanding, the Magdalene is not, at any point in any of the 

Gospels, said to be a prostitute. When she is first mentioned in the Gospel of Luke, she is 

described as a woman "out of whom went seven devils'. It is generally assumed that this 

phrase refers to a species of exorcism on Jesus's part, implying the Magdalene was 

"possessed'. But the phrase may equally refer to some sort of conversion and/or ritual 

initiation. The cult of Ishtar or Astarte the Mother Goddess and "Queen of Heaven' 

involved, for example, a seven-stage initiation. Prior to her affiliation with Jesus, the 

Magdalene may well have been associated with such a cult. Migdal, or Magdala, was the 

"Village of Doves', and there is some evidence that sacrificial doves were in fact bred 

there. And the dove was the sacred symbol of Astarte. 

One chapter before he speaks of the Magdalene, Luke alludes to a woman 

who anointed Jesus. In the Gospel of Mark there is a similar 


anointment by an unnamed woman. Neither Luke nor Mark explicitly 

identify this woman with the 

Magdalene. But Luke reports that she was a "fallen woman', a "sinner'. 

Subsequent commentators have assumed that the Magdalene, since she apparently had 

seven devils cast out of her, must have been a sinner. On this basis the woman who 

anoints Jesus and the Magdalene came to be regarded as the same person. In fact they 

may well have been. If the Magdalene were associated with a pagan cult, that would 

certainly have rendered her a "sinner' in the eyes not only of Luke, but of later writers as 


If the Magdalene was a "sinner', she was also, quite clearly, something more than the 

"common prostitute' of popular tradition. Quite clearly she was a woman of means. Luke 

reports, for example, that her friends included the wife of a high dignitary at Herod's court 

and that both women, together with various others, supported Jesus and his disciples with 

their financial resources. The woman who anointed Jesus was also a woman of means. 

In Mark's Gospel great stress is laid upon the costliness of the spikenard ointment with 

which the ritual was performed. 

The whole episode of Jesus's anointing would seem to be an affair of 

considerable consequence. Why else would it be emphasised by the 

Gospels to the extent it is? Given its prominence, it appears to be 

something more than an impulsive spontaneous gesture. It appears to be 

a carefully premeditated rite. One must remember that anointing was 

the traditional prerogative of kings and of the "rightful Messiah', 

which means 'the anointed one'. From this, it follows that Jesus 

becomes an authentic 

Messiah by virtue of his anointing. And the woman who consecrates him in that august 

role can hardly be unimportant. 

In any case it is clear that the Magdalene, by the end of Jesus's 

ministry, has become a figure of immense significance. In the three 

Synoptic Gospels her name consistently heads the lists of women who 

followed Jesus, just as 

Simon Peter heads the lists of male disciples. And, of co use she was 

the first witness to the empty tomb following the Crucifixion. Among 

all his devotees, it was to the Magdalene that Jesus first chose to 

reveal his 



Throughout the Gospels Jesus treats the Magdalene in a unique and 

preferential manner. Such treatment may well have induced jealousy in other disciples. It 

would seem fairly obvious that later tradition endeavoured to blacken the Magdalene's 

background, if not her name. The portrayal of her as a harlot may well have been the 

overcompensation of a vindictive following, intent on impugning the reputation of a woman 

whose association with Jesus was closer than their own and thus inspired an all too 

human envy. If other "Christians', either during Jesus's lifetime or afterwards, grudged the 

Magdalene her unique bond with their spiritual leader, there might well have been an 

attempt to diminish her in the eyes of posterity. There is no question that she was so 

diminished. Even today one thinks of her as a harlot, and during the Middle Ages houses 

for reformed prostitutes were called Magdalenes. But the Gospels themselves bear 

witness that the woman who imparted her name to these institutions did not deserve to be 

so stigmatised. 

Whatever the status of the Magdalene in the Gospels, she is not the 

only possible candidate for Jesus's wife. There is one other, who 

figures most prominently in the Fourth Gospel and who may be identified 

as Mary of 

Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus. She and her family are clearly on very familiar 

terms with Jesus. They are also wealthy, maintaining a house in a fashionable suburb of 

Jerusalem large enough to accommodate Jesus and his entire entourage. What is more, 

the Lazarus episode reveals that this house contains a private tomb a somewhat 

flamboyant luxury in Jesus's time, not only a sign of wealth but also a status symbol 

attesting to aristocratic connections. In Biblical Jerusalem, as in any modern city, land 

was at a premium; and only a very few could afford the self-indulgence of a private burial 


When, in the Fourth Gospel, Lazarus falls ill, Jesus has left Bethany for a few days and is 

staying with his disciples on the Jordan. 

Hearing of what has happened, he nevertheless delays for two days a 

rather curious reaction and then returns to Bethany, where Lazarus lies 

in the tomb. As he approaches, Martha rushes forth to meet him and 

cries, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." (John 

1 1 :21 ) It is a perplexing assertion, for why should Jesus's physical 


presence necessarily have prevented the man's death? But the incident 

is significant because Martha, when she greets Jesus, is alone. One 

would expect Mary, her sister, to be with her. Mary, however, is 

sitting in the house and does not emerge until Jesus explicitly 

commands her to do so. The point becomes clearer in the "secret' 

Gospel of Mark, discovered by Professor Morton Smith and cited earlier in this chapter. In 

the suppressed account by Mark, it would appear that Mary does emerge from the house 

before Jesus instructs her to do so. And she is promptly and angrily rebuked by the 

disciples, whom Jesus is obliged to silence. 

It would be plausible enough for Mary to be sitting in the house when 

Jesus arrives in Bethany. In accordance with Jewish custom, she would 

be "sitting 

Shiveh' sitting in mourning. But why does she not join Martha and rush to meet Jesus on 

his return? There is one obvious explanation. By the tenets of Judaic law at the time, a 

woman "sitting Shiveh' would have been strictly forbidden to emerge from the house 

except at the express bidding of her husband. In this incident the behaviour of Jesus and 

Mary of Bethany conforms precisely to the traditional comportment of a Jewish man and 


There is additional evidence for a possible marriage between Jesus and 

Mary of Bethany. It occurs, more or less as a non sequitur, in the 

Gospel of 


Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain 

woman named Martha received him into her house. 

And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. 

But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and 


Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that 

she help me. 

And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled 

about many things: 

But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken 

away from her. (Luke 10:38-42) 

From Martha's appeal, it would seem apparent that Jesus exercises some 

sort of authority over Mary. More important still, however, is Jesus's 


reply. In any other context one would not hesitate to interpret this 

reply as an allusion to a marriage. In any case it clearly suggests that Mary of Bethany 

was as avid a disciple as the Magdalene. 

There is substantial reason for regarding the Magdalene and the woman 

who anoints Jesus as one and the same person. Could this person, we 

wondered, also be one and the same with Mary of Bethany, sister of 

Lazarus and 

Martha? Could these women who, in the Gospels, appear in three different contexts in 

fact be a single person? The medieval Church certainly regarded them as such, and so 

did popular tradition. Many Biblical scholars today concur. There is abundant evidence to 

support such a conclusion. 

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John, for example, all cite the Magdalene as being 

present at the Crucifixion. None of them cites Mary of Bethany. 

But if Mary of Bethany was as devoted a disciple as she appears to be, 

her absence would seem to be, at the least, remiss. Is it credible 

that she not to mention her brother, Lazarus -would fail to witness the 

climactic moment of Jesus's life? Such an omission would be both 

inexplicable and reprehensible unless, of course, she was present and 

cited by the Gospels as such under the name of the Magdalene. If the 

Magdalene and Mary of 

Bethany are one and the same, there is no question of the latter having been absent from 

the Crucifixion. 

The Magdalene can be identified with Mary of Bethany. The Magdalene can also be 

identified with the woman who anoints Jesus. The Fourth Gospel identifies the woman 

who anoints Jesus with Mary of Bethany. Indeed, the author of the Fourth Gospel is quite 

explicit on the matter: 

Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of 

Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the 

Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) 

(John 11:12) 

And again, one chapter later: 

Then Jesus six days before the passover came to 

Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 


There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one 

of them that sat at the table with him. 

Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of 

Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the 

ointment. (John 12:1-3) 

It is thus clear that Mary of Bethany and the woman who anoints Jesus are the same 

woman. If not equally clear, it is certainly probable that this woman is also the Magdalene. 

If Jesus was indeed married, there would thus seem to be only one candidate for his wife 

one woman who recurs repeatedly in the Gospels under different names and in different 


The Beloved Disciple 

3) If the Magdalene and Mary of Bethany are the same woman, and if this woman 
was Jesus' s wife, Lazarus would have been Jesus' s brother-in-law. Is there any 

evidence in the Gospels to suggest that Lazarus did indeed enjoy such a Status? 

Lazarus does not figure by name in the Gospels of Luke, Matthew and 

Mark although his "resurrection from the dead' was originally contained 


Mark's account and then excised. As a result Lazarus is known to posterity only through 

the Fourth Gospel the Gospel of John. But here it is clear that he does enjoy some 

species of preferential treatment which is not confined to being "raised from the dead'. In 

this and a number of other respects, he would appear, if anything, to be closer to Jesus 

than the disciples themselves. And yet, curiously enough, the Gospels do not even 

number him among the disciples. 

Unlike the disciples, Lazarus is actually menaced. According to the 


Gospel, the chief priests, on resolving to dispatch Jesus, decided to 


Lazarus as well (John 12:10). Lazarus would seem to have been active 

in some way on Jesus's behalf which is more than can be said of some of 

the disciples. In theory this should have qualified him to be a 

disciple himself and yet he is still not cited as such. Nor is he said 


to have been present at the Crucifixion an apparently shameless 

display of ingratitude in a man who, quite literally, owed Jesus his life. Granted, he might 

have gone into hiding, given the threat directed against him. But it is extremely curious 

that there is no further reference to him in the Gospels. He seems to have vanished 

completely, and is never mentioned again. Or is he? We attempted to examine the 

matter more closely. 

After staying in Bethany for three months, Jesus retires with his disciples to the banks of 

the Jordan, not much more than a day's distance away. Here a messenger hastens to 

him with the news that Lazarus is ill. But the messenger does not refer to Lazarus by 

name. On the contrary, he pro trays the sick man as someone of very special importance, 

"Lord, behold, he whom thou lowest is sick." (John 1 1 :3) 

Jesus's reaction to this news is distinctly odd. Instead of returning 

post-haste to the succour of the man he supposedly loves, he blithely 

dismisses the matter: "When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is 

not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be 

glorified thereby." (1 1 :4) And if his words are perplexing, his 

actions are even more so: "When he heard therefore that he was sick, he 

abode two days still in the same place where he was." (1 1 :6J In short 

Jesus continues to dally at the Jordan for another two days despite the 

alarming news he has received. At last he resolves to return to 

Bethany. And then he flagrantly contradicts his previous statement by 

telling the disciples that Lazarus is dead. He is still unperturbed 

however. Indeed, he states plainly that Lazarus's "death' had served 

some purpose and is to be turned to account: "Our friend Lazarus 

sleepeth; but 

I go, that I may awake him out of sleep." (11:11) And four verses 

later he virtually admits that the whole affair has been carefully 

stage-managed and arranged in advance: "And I am glad for your sakes 

that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless, let 

us go unto him." (1 1 :15) If such behaviour is bewildering, the 

reaction of the disciples is no less so: "Then said Thomas, which is 

called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may 

die with him." (11:16) What does this mean? If 

Lazarus is literally dead, surely the disciples have no intention of 

joining him by a collective suicide! And how is one to account for 


Jesus's own carelessness the blase indifference with which he hears of 

Lazarus's illness and his delay in returning to Bethany? 

The explanations of the matter would seem to lie, as Professor Morton Smith suggests, in 

a more or less standard "mystery school' initiation. 


Professor Smith demonstrates, such initiations and their accompanying rituals were 

common enough in the Palestine of Jesus's era. They often entailed a symbolic death 

and rebirth, which were called by those names; sequestration in a tomb, which became a 

womb for the acolyte's rebirth; a rite, which is now called baptism a symbolic immersion in 

water; and a cup of wine, which was identified with the blood of the prophet or magician 

presiding over the ceremony. By drinking from such a cup, the disciple consummated a 

symbolic union with his teacher, the former becoming mystically "one' with the latter. 

Significantly enough, it is precisely in these terms that Saint Paul explains the purpose of 

baptism. And Jesus himself uses the same terms at the Last Supper. 

As Professor Smith points out, Jesus's career is very similar to those of other magicians, 

healers, wonder workers and miracle-workers of the period. 1 2 Throughout the Four 

Gospels, for example, he consistently meets secretly with the people he is about to heal, 

or speaks quietly with them alone. 

Afterwards he often asks them not to divulge what transpired. And so far as the general 

public is concerned, he speaks habitually in allegories and parables. 

It would seem, then, that Lazarus, during Jesus's sojourn at the Jordan, has embarked on 

a typical initiation rite, leading as such rites traditionally did to a symbolic resurrection and 

rebirth. In this light the disciples' desire to "die with him' becomes perfectly 

comprehensible as does Jesus's otherwise inexplicable complacency about the whole 


Granted, Mary and Martha would appear to be genuinely distraught as would a number of 

other people. But they may simply have misunderstood or misconstrued the point of the 

exercise. Or perhaps something seemed to have gone wrong with the initiation a not 

uncommon occurrence. Or perhaps the whole affair was a skilfully contrived piece of 

stagecraft, whose true nature and purpose were known only to a very few. 


If the Lazarus incident does reflect a ritual initiation, he is 

clearly receiving very preferential treatment. Among other things, he is apparently being 

initiated before any of the disciples who, indeed, seem decidedly envious of his privilege. 

But why should this hitherto unknown man of Bethany thus be singled out? Why should 

he undergo an experience in which the disciples are so eager to join him? Why should 

later, mystically oriented "heretics like the Carpocratians have made so much of the 


And why should the entire episode have been expurgated from the Gospel 


Mark? Perhaps because Lazarus was "he whom Jesus loved' more than the 

other disciples. Perhaps because Lazarus had some special connection 


Jesus -like that of brother-in-law. Perhaps both. It is possible that Jesus came to know 

and love Lazarus precisely because Lazarus was his brother-in-law. In any case the love 

is repeatedly stressed. When Jesus returns to Bethany and weeps, or feigns to weep, for 

Lazarus's death, the bystanders echo the words of the messenger: "Behold how he loved 

him!" (John 11:36) 

The author of the Gospel of John the Gospel in which the Lazarus story figures does not 

at any point identify himself as "John'. In fact he does not name himself at all. He does, 

however, refer to himself by a most distinctive appellation. He constantly calls himself "the 

beloved disciple', "the one whom Jesus loved', and clearly implies that he enjoys a unique 

and preferred status over his comrades. At the Last Supper, for example, he flagrantly 

displays his personal proximity to Jesus, and it is to him alone that Jesus confides the 

means whereby betrayal will occur: 

Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. 

Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he 


He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? 

Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he 

had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. (John 13:23-6) 

Who is this "beloved disciple', on whose testimony the Fourth Gospel is 


based? All the evidence suggests that he is in fact Lazarus "he whom 
Jesus loved'. It would seem, then, that 

Lazarus and the "beloved disciple' are one and the same person, and 

Lazarus is the real identity of "John'. This conclusion would seem to 
be almost inevitable. Nor were we alone in reaching it. According to 

William Brownlee, a leading Biblical scholar and one of the foremost experts on the Dead 
Sea Scrolls: "From internal evidence in the Fourth Gospel .. . the conclusion is that the 
beloved disciple is Lazarus of Bethany." 

If Lazarus and the "beloved disciple' are one and the same, it would explain a number of 
anomalies. It would explain Lazarus's mysterious disappearance from the Scriptural 
account, and his apparent absence during the Crucifixion. For if Lazarus and the "beloved 
disciple' were one and the same, Lazarus would have been present at the Crucifixion. 
And it would have been to Lazarus that Jesus entrusted the care of his mother. The 
words with which he did so might well be the words of a man referring to his brother-in- 

When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he 
saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 

Then saith he to the disciple. Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her 
unto his own home. (John 19:26-7) 

The last word of this quotation is particularly revelatory. For the 
other disciples have left their homes in Galilee and, to all intents 
and purposes, are homeless. Lazarus, however, does have a home that 
crucial house in 

Bethany, where Jesus himself was accustomed to stay. 
After the priests are said to have decided on his death, Lazarus is not 
again mentioned by name. He would appear to vanish completely. But if 
he is indeed the "beloved disciple', he does not vanish after all, and 
his movements and activities can be traced to the very end of the 

Gospel. And here, too, there is a curious episode that warrants examination. At the end 
of the Fourth Gospel Jesus forecasts Peter's death and instructs Peter to "follow' him: 
Then Peter, turning about, see th the disciple whom Jesus loved 


following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, 

which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this 

man do? 

Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. 

Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet 

Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die, but, if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that 

to thee? 

This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know 

that his testimony is true. (John 21 :20-24) 

Despite its ambiguous phraseology, the import of this passage would 

seem to be clear. The "beloved disciple' has been explicitly 

instructed to wait for 

Jesus's return. And the text itself is quite emphatic in stressing that this return is not to be 

understood symbolically in the sense of a "second coming'. On the contrary, it implies 

something much more mundane. It implies that Jesus, after dispatching his other 

followers out into the world, must soon return with some special commission for the 

"beloved disciple'. It is almost as if they have specific, concrete arrangements to conclude 

and plans to make. 

If the "beloved disciple' is Lazarus, such collusion, unknown to the 

other disciples, would seem to have a certain precedent. In the week 

before the 

Crucifixion, Jesus undertakes to make his triumphal entry into 

Jerusalem; and in order to do so in accordance with Old Testament 

prophecies of a 

Messiah, he must be riding astride an ass. (Zechariah 9:9-10) 

Accordingly an ass must be procured. In Luke's Gospel Jesus dispatches 

two disciples to 

Bethany, where, he tells them, they will find an ass awaiting them. They are instructed to 

tell the beast's owner that the "Master has need of it'. 

When everything transpires precisely as Jesus has forecast, it is 

regarded as a sort of miracle. But is there really anything very 

extraordinary about it? Does it not merely attest to carefully laid 

plans? And would not the man from Bethany who provides an ass at the 

appointed time seem to be 


This, certainly, is the conclusion of Doctor Hugh Schonfield."4 He 


argues convincingly that the arrange menu for Jesus's triumphal entry 

into Jerusalem were entrusted to Lazarus, and that the other disciples 

had no knowledge of them. If this was indeed the case, it attests to 

an inner circle of Jesus's followers, a core of collaborators, 

co-conspirators or family members who, alone, are admitted into their 

master's confidence. Doctor Schonfield believes that Lazarus is part 

of just such a circle. And his belief concurs with Professor Smith's 

insistence on the preferential treatment Lazarus receives by virtue of 

his initiation, or symbolic death, at Bethany. It is possible that 

Bethany was a cult centre, a place reserved for the unique rituals over 

which Jesus presided. If so, this might explain the otherwise 

enigmatic occurrence of 

Bethany elsewhere in our investigation. The Prieure de Sion had called 

its "arch' at Rennes-leChateau "Bethanie'. And Sauniere, apparently at 


Prieure de Sion's request, had christened his villa Villa Bethania. 

In any case, the collusion which seems to elicit an ass from the "man 


Bethany' may well be displaying itself again at the mysterious end of 


Fourth Gospel when Jesus orders the "beloved disciple' to tarry until he returns. It would 

seem that he and the "beloved disciple' have plans to make. And it is not unreasonable to 

assume that these plans included the care of Jesus's family, At the Crucifixion he had 

already entrusted his mother to the "beloved disciple's' custody. If he had a wife and 

children, they, presumably, would have been entrusted to the "beloved disciple' as well. 

This, of course, would be all the more plausible if the 'beloved disciple' were indeed his 


According to much later tradition, Jesus's mother eventually died in 

exile at Ephesus from whence the Fourth Gospel is said to have 

subsequently issued. There is no indication, however, that the 

"beloved disciple' attended Jesus's mother for the duration of her 

life. According to Doctor 

Schonfield, the Fourth Gospel was probably not composed at Ephesus, only reworked, 

revised and edited by a Greek elder there who made it conform to his own ideas." 

If the "beloved disciple' did not go to Ephesus, what became of him? 

If he and Lazarus were one and the same that question can be answered, 


for tradition is quite explicit about what became of Lazarus. 

According to tradition, as well as certain early Church writers, 

Lazarus, the Magdalene, 

Martha, Joseph of Arimathea and a few others, were transported by ship 


Marseilles. "6 Here Joseph was supposedly consecrated by Saint Philip and sent on to 

England, where he established a church at Glastonbury. Lazarus and the Magdalene, 

however, are said to have remained in Gaul. 

Tradition maintains that the Magdalene died at either Aix-en-Provence 

or Saint Baume, and Lazarus at Marseilles after founding the first 

bishopric there. One of their companions, Saint Maximin, is said to 

have founded the first bishopric of Narbonne.* 

If Lazarus and the "beloved disciple' were one and the same, there would thus be an 

explanation for their joint disappearance. Lazarus, the true "beloved disciple', would seem 

to have been set ashore at Marseilles, together with his sister who, as tradition 

subsequently maintains, was carrying with her the Holy Grail, the "blood royal'. And the 

arrangements for this escape and exile would seem to have been made by Jesus himself, 

together with the "beloved disciple', at the end of the Fourth Gospel. 

The Dynasty of Jesus 

4) If Jesus was indeed married to the Magdalene, might such a marriage have 
served some specific purpose? In other words, might it have been something more 
than a conventional marriage? Might it have been a dynastic alliance of some 
kind, with political implications and repercussions? Might a bloodline 

resulting from such a marriage, in short, have fully warranted the appellation "blood 

The Gospel of Matthew states explicitly that Jesus was of royal blood a 
genuine king, the lineal descendant of Solomon and David. If this is 
true, he would have enjoyed a legitimate claim to the throne of a 

Palestine and perhaps even the legitimate claim. And the inscription 
affixed to the cross would have been much more than mere sadistic 
derision, for Jesus would indeed have been "King of the Jews'. His 
position, in many respects, would have been analogous to that of, say, 
Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. And thus he would have engendered the 


opposition he did precisely by virtue of his role the role of a priest 

king who might possibly unify his country and the Jewish people, thereby posing <i serious 

threat to both Herod and Rome. 

Certain modern Biblical scholars have argued that Herod's famous "Massacre of the 

Innocents' never in fact took place. Even if it did, it was probably not of the garish and 

appalling proportions ascribed to it by the Gospels and subsequent tradition. And yet the 

very perpetuation of the story would seem to attest to something some genuine alarm on 

Herod's part, some very real anxiety about being deposed. Granted, Herod was an 

extremely insecure ruler, hated by his enslaved subjects and sustained in power only by 

Roman cohorts. But however precarious his position might have been, it cannot, 

realistically speaking, have been seriously threatened by rumours of a mystical or spiritual 

saviour of the kind with which the Holy Land at the time already abounded anyway. If 

Herod was indeed worried, it can only have been by a very real, concrete, political threat 

the threat posed by a man who possessed a more legitimate claim to the throne than his 

own, and who could muster substantial popular support. The "Massacre of the Innocents' 

may never have occurred, but the traditions relating to it reflect some concern on Herod's 

part about a rival claim and, quite possibly, some action intended to forestall or preclude it. 

Such a claim can only have been political in nature. And it must have warranted being 

taken seriously. 

To suggest that Jesus enjoyed such a claim is, of course, to challenge 

the popular image of the "poor carpenter from Nazareth'. But there are 

persuasive reasons for doing so. In the first place it is not 

altogether certain that Jesus was from Nazareth. "Jesus of Nazareth' 

is in fact a corruption, or mis translation of "Jesus the Nazorite' or 

"Jesus the 

Nazorean' or perhaps "Jesus of Gennesareth'. In the second place there 

is considerable doubt as to whether the town of Nazareth actually 

existed in 

Jesus's time. It does not occur in any Roman maps, documents or 

records. It is not mentioned in the Talmud. It is not mentioned, 

still less associated with Jesus, in any of the writings of Saint Paul 

-which were, after all, composed before the Gospels. And Flavius JosephllS the 

foremost chronicler of the period, who commanded troops in 


Galilee and listed the province's towns makes no mention of Nazareth 

either. It would seem, in short, that Nazareth did not appear as a town until sometime 

after the revolt of nD. 68-74, and that Jesus's name became associated with it by virtue of 

the semantic confusion accidental or deliberate which characterises so much of the New 


Whether Jesus was "of Nazareth' or not there is no indication that he was ever a "poor 

carpenter'. 17 Certainly none of the Gospels portrays him as such. Indeed their evidence 

suggests quite the contrary. He seems to be well educated for example. He seems to 

have undergone training for the rabbinate, and to have consorted as frequently with 

wealthy and influential people as with the poor Joseph of Arimathea, for instance, and 


And the wedding at Cana would seem to bear further witness to Jesus's status and social 


This wedding does not appear to have been a modest, humble festival conducted by the 

"common people'. On the contrary it bears all the marks of an extravagant aristocratic 

union, a "high society' affair, attended by at least several hundred guests. There are 

abundant servants, for example who hasten to do both Mary's and Jesus's bidding. There 

is a "master of the feast' or "master of ceremonies' who, in the context, would have been a 

kind of chief butler or perhaps even an aristocrat himself. Most clearly there is a positively 

enormous quantity of wine. When Jesus "transmutes' the water into wine, he produces, 

according to the "Good News Bible', no less than six hundred lit res which is more than 

eight hundred bottles! And this is in addition to what has already been consumed. 

All things considered, the wedding at Cana would seem to have been a sumptuous 

ceremony of the gentry or aristocracy. Even if the wedding were not Jesus's own, his 

presence at it, and his mother's, would suggest that they were members of the same 

caste. This alone would explain the servants' obedience to them. 

If Jesus was an aristocrat, and if he was married to the Magdalene, it is probable that she 

was of comparable social station. And indeed, she would appear to be so. As we have 

seen she numbered among her friends the wife of an important official at Herod's court. 

But she may have been more important still. 


As we had discovered by tracing references in the "Prieure documents', 

Jerusalem the Holy City and capital of Judaea had originally been the 

property of the Tribe of Benjamin. Subsequently the 

Benjamites were decimated in their war with the other tribes of Israel, 

and many of them went into exile although, as the "Prieure documents' 

maintain, "certain of them remained'. One descendant of this remnant 


Saint Paul, who states explicitly that he is a Beni amite. (Romans 11:1) 

Despite their conflict with the other tribes of Israel, the Tribe of 

Benjamin appears to have enjoyed some special status. Among other 

things, it provided Israel with her first king Saul, anointed by the 


Samuel and with her first royal house. But Saul was eventually deposed 


David, of the Tribe of Judah. And David not only deprived the Benjamites of their claim to 

the throne. By establishing his capital at Jerusalem he deprived them of their rightful 

inheritance as well. 

According to all New Testament accounts, Jesus was of the line of David and thus also a 

member of the Tribe of Judah. In Benjamite eyes this might have rendered him, at least in 

some sense, a usurper. Any such objection might have been surmounted, however, if he 

were married to a Benjamite woman. 

Such a marriage would have constituted an important dynastic alliance, 

and one filled with political consequence. If would not only have 


Israel with a powerful priest-king. It would also have performed the symbolic function of 

returning Jerusalem to its original and rightful owners. Thus it would have served to 

encourage popular unity and support, and consolidated whatever claim to the throne 

Jesus might have possessed. 

In the New Testament there is no indication of the Magdalene's tribal affiliation. In 

subsequent legends, however, she is said to have been of : oyal lineage. And there are 

other traditions which state specifically that she was of the Tribe of Benjamin. 

At this point, the outlines of a coherent historical scenario began to be discernible. And, 

as far as we could see, it made sound political sense. 

Jesus would have been a priest-king of the line of David, who possessed 

a legitimate claim to the throne. He would have consolidated his 

position by a symbolically important dynastic marriage. He would then 

have been poised to unify his country, mobilise the populace behind 


him, drive out the oppressors, depose their abject puppet and restore 

the glory of the monarchy as it was under Solomon. Such a man would 

indeed have been "King of the 


The Crucifixion 

5) As Gandhi's accomplishments bear witness, a spiritual leader, given 

sufficient popular support, can pose a threat to an existing regime. 

But a married man, with a rightful claim to the throne and children 

through whom to establish a dynasty, is a threat of a decidedly more 

serious nature. Is there any evidence in the Gospels that Jesus was in 

fact regarded by the 

Romans as such a threat? 

During his interview with Pilate, Jesus is repeatedly called "King of 


Jews'. In accordance with Pilate's instructions, an inscription of 

this title is also affixed to the cross. As Professor S. G. F. Brandon 


Manchester University argues, the inscription affixed to the cross must be regarded as 

genuine as much so as anything in the New Testament. In the first place it figures, with 

virtually no variation, in all four Gospels. 

In the second place it is too compromising, too embarrassing an episode for subsequent 

editors to have invented it. 

In the Gospel of Mark, Pilate, after interrogating Jesus, asks the assembled dignitaries, 

"What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?" (Mark 

15:12) This would seem to indicate that at least some Jews do actually refer to Jesus as 

their king. At the same time, however, in all four Gospels Pilate also accords Jesus that 


There is no reason to suppose that he does so ironically or derisively. In the Fourth 

Gospel he insists on it quite adamantly and seriously, despite a chorus of protests. In the 

three Synoptic Gospels, moreover, Jesus himself acknowledged his claim to the title: "And 

Pilate asked him. Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou 

say est it." (Mark 15:2) In the English translation this reply may sound ambivalent - 

perhaps deliberately so. In the original Greek, however, its import is quite unequivocal. It 

can only be interpreted as "Thou hast spoken correctly'. And thus the phrase is 

interpreted whenever it appears elsewhere in the Bible. 


The Gospels were composed during and after the revolt of A.D. 68-74, 

when Judaism had effectively ceased to exist as an organised social, 

political and military force. What is more, the Gospels were composed 

for a Greco-Roman audience for whom they had, of necessity, to be made 

acceptable. Rome had just fought a bitter and costly war against the 

Jews. In consequence it was perfectly natural to cast the Jews in the 

role of villains. In the wake of the Judaean revolt, moreover, Jesus 

could not possibly be portrayed as a political figure a figure in any 

way linked to the agitation which culminated in the war. Finally the 

role of the Romans in 

Jesus's trial and execution had to be whitewashed and presented as 

sympathetically as possible. Thus Pilate is depicted in the Gospels as 

a decent, responsible and tolerant man, who consents only reluctantly 

to the 

Crucifixion." But despise these liberties taken with history, Rome's true position in the 

affair can be discerned. 

According to the Gospels, Jesus is initially condemned by the Sanhedrin 

the Council of Jewish Elders who then bring him to Pilate and beseech 


Procurator to pronounce against him. Historically this makes no sense 

at all. In the three Synoptic Gospels Jesus is arrested and condemned 

by the 

Sanhedrin on the night of the Passover. But by Judaic law the 

Sanhedrin was forbidden to meet over the Passover. "9 In the Gospels 

Jesus's arrest and trial occur at night, before the Sanhedrin. By 

Judaic law the Sanhedrin was forbidden to meet at night, in private 

houses, or anywhere outside the precincts of the Temple. In the 

Gospels the Sanhedrin is apparently un authorised to pass a death 

sentence and this would ostensibly be the reason for bringing Jesus to 

Pilate. However, the Sanhedrin was authorised to pass death sentences 

by stoning, if not by crucifixion. If the 

Sanhedrin had wished to dispose of Jesus, therefore, it could have sentenced him to 

death by stoning on its own authority. There would have been no need to bother Pilate at 


There are numerous other attempts by the authors of the Gospels to transfer guilt and 

responsibility from Rome. One such is Pilate's apparent offer of a dispensation his 

readiness to free a prisoner of the crowd's choosing. 

According to the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, this was a "custom of 


Passover festival'. In fact it was no such thing. z Modern authorities 


agree that no such policy ever existed on the part of the Romans, and 

that the offer to liberate either 

Jesus or Barabbas is sheer fiction. Pilate's reluctance to condemn 

Jesus, and his grudging submission to the bullying pressure of the mob, 

would seem to be equally fictitious. In reality it would have been 

unthinkable for a 

Roman Procurator and especially a Procurator as ruthless as Pilate to bow to the pressure 

of a mob. Again, the purpose of such fictionalisation is clear enough to exonerate the 

Romans, to transfer blame to the Jews and thereby to make Jesus acceptable to a Roman 


It is possible, of course, that not all Jews were entirely innocent. 

Even if the Roman administration feared a priest-king with a claim to 

the throne, it could not embark overtly on acts of provocation acts 

that might precipitate a full-scale rebellion. Certainly it would have 

been more expedient for Rome if the priest-king were ostensibly 

betrayed by his own people. It is thus conceivable that the Romans 

employed certain Sadducees as, say, agents provocateurs. But even if 

this were the case, the inescapable fact remains that Jesus was the 

victim of a Roman administration, a 

Roman court, a Roman sentence, Roman soldiery and a Roman execution an execution 

which, in form, was reserved exclusively for enemies of Rome. 

It was not for crimes against Judaism that Jesus was crucified, but for 

crimes against the empire. z' 

Who Was Barabbas? 

6) Is there any evidence in the Gospels that Jesus actually did have children? 

There is nothing explicit. But rabbis were expected, as a matter of course, to have 

children; and if Jesus was a rabbi, it would have been most unusual for him to remain 

childless. Indeed, it would have been unusual for him to remain childless whether he was 

a rabbi or not. 

Granted, these arguments, in themselves, do not constitute any positive 

evidence. But there is evidence of a more concrete, more specific 

kind. It consists of the elusive individual who figures in the Gospels 

as Barabbas, or, to be more precise, as Jesus Barabbas for it is by 

this name that he is identified in the 


Gospel of Matthew. If nothing else, the coincidence is striking. 

Modern scholars are uncertain about the derivation and meaning of 

"Barabbas'. "Jesus Barabbas' may be a corruption of "Jesus Berabbi'. 

"Berabbi' was a title reserved for the highest and most esteemed rabbis and was placed 

after the rabbi's given name. ""Jesus Berabbi' might therefore refer to Jesus himself. 

Alternatively, "Jesus Barabbas' might originally have been "Jesus bar Rabbi' - "Jesus, son 

of the Rabbi'. There is no record anywhere of Jesus's own father having been a rabbi. 

But if Jesus had a son named after himself, that son would indeed have been "Jesus bar 


There is one other possibility as well. "Jesus Barabbas' may derive 


"Jesus bar Abba'; and since "Abba' is "father' in Hebrew, "Barabbas' 

would then mean "son of the father' - a fairly pointless designation 

unless the "father' is in some way special. If the "father' were 

actually the 

"Heavenly Father', then "Barabbas' might again refer to Jesus himself. On the other hand, 

if Jesus himself is the "father', "Barabbas' would again refer to his son. 

Whatever the meaning and derivation of the name, the figure of Barabbas is extremely 

curious. And the more one considers the incident concerning him, the more apparent it 

becomes that something irregular is going on and someone is attempting to conceal 

something. In the first place Barabbas's name, like the Magdalene's, seems to have been 

subjected to a deliberate and systematic blackening. Just as popular tradition depicts the 

Magdalene as a harlot, so it depicts Barabbas as a "thief. But if Barabbas was any of the 

things his name suggests, he is hardly likely to have been a common thief. Why then 

blacken his name? Unless he was something else in reality something which the editors 

of the New Testament did not want posterity to know. 

Strictly speaking the Gospels themselves do not describe Barabbas as a 

thief. According to Mark and Luke he is a political prisoner, a rebel 

charged with murder and insurrection. In the Gospel of Matthew, 


Barabbas is described as a "notable prisoner'. And in the Fourth 


Barabbas is said to be (in the Greek) a les tai (John 18:40) This can 

be translated as either "robber' or "bandit'. In its historical 

context, however, it meant something quite different. Lestes was in 


fact the term habitually applied by the Romans to the Zealots23 the 

militant nationalistic revolutionaries who for some time had been fomenting social 

upheaval. Since Mark and Luke agree that Barabbas is guilty of insurrection, and since 

Matthew does not contradict this assertion, it is safe to conclude that Barabbas was a 


But this is not the only information available on Barabbas. According 


Luke, he had been involved in a recent "disturbance', "sedition' or "riot' in the city. History 

makes no mention of any such turmoil in Jerusalem at the time. The Gospels, however, 

do. According to the Gospels, there had been a civic disturbance in Jerusalem, only a few 

days before when Jesus and his followers overturned the tables of the money-lenders at 

the Temple. 

Was this the disturbance in which Barabbas was involved, and for which he was 

imprisoned? It certainly seems likely. And in that case there is one obvious conclusion 

that Barabbas was one of Jesus's entourage. 

According to modern scholars, the "custom' of releasing a prisoner on 


Passover did not exist. But even if it did, the choice of Barabbas 


Jesus would make no sense. If Barabbas were indeed a common criminal, guilty of 

murder, why would the people choose to have his life spared? 

And if he were indeed a Zealot or a revolutionary, it is hardly likely 


Pilate would have released so potentially dangerous a character, rather than a harmless 

visionary who was quite prepared, ostensibly, to "render unto Caesar'. Of all the 

discrepancies, inconsistencies and improbabilities in the Gospels, the choice of Barabbas 

is among the most striking and most inexplicable. Something would clearly seem to lie 

behind so clumsy and confusing a fabrication. 

One modern writer has proposed an intriguing and plausible explanation. 

He suggests that Barabbas was the son of Jesus and Jesus a legitimate 


If this were the case, the choice of Barabbas would suddenly make sense. 

One must imagine an oppressed populace confronted with the imminent extermination of 

their spiritual and political ruler the Messiah, whose advent had formerly promised so 

much. In such circumstances, would not the dynasty be more important than the 

individual? Would not the preservation of the bloodline be paramount, taking precedence 

over everything else? 


Would not a people, faced with the dreadful choice, prefer to see 

their king sacrificed in order that his offspring and his line might survive? If the line 

survived, there would at least be hope for the future. 

It is certainly not impossible that Barabbas was Jesus's son. Jesus is 

generally believed to have been born around 6 sc. The Crucifixion 

occurred no later than A.D. 36, which would make Jesus, at most, 

forty-two years of age. But even if he was only thirty-three when he 

died, he might still have fathered a son. In accordance with the 

customs of the time, he might have married as early as sixteen or 

seventeen. Yet even if he did not marry until aged twenty, he might 

still have had a son aged thirteen who, by 

Judaic custom, would have been considered a man. And, of course, there may well have 

been other children too. Such children could have been conceived at any point up to 

within a day or so of the Crucifixion. 

The Crucifixion in Detail 

7) Jesus could well have sired a number of children prior to the 

Crucifjxion. If he survived the Crucifixion, however, the likelihood of offspring would be 

still further increased. Is there any evidence that Jesus did indeed survive the Crucifixion 

or that the Crucifixion was in some way a fraud? 

Given the portrait of him in the Gospels, it is inexplicable that Jesus was crucified at all. 

According to the Gospels, his enemies were the established Jewish interests in 

Jerusalem. But such enemies, if they in fact existed, could have stoned him to death of 

their own accord and on their own authority, without involving Rome in the matter. 

According to the 

Gospels, Jesus had no particular quarrel with Rome and did not 


Roman law. And yet he was punished by the Romans, in accordance with 

Roman law and Roman procedures. And he was punished by crucifixion a 

penalty exclusively reserved for those guilty of crimes against the 

empire. If 

Jesus was indeed crucified, he cannot have been as apolitical as the 

Gospels depict him. On the contrary, he must, of necessity, have done something to 

provoke Roman as opposed to Jewish -wrath. 


Whatever the trespasses for which Jesus was crucified, his apparent 
death on the cross is fraught with inconsistencies. There is, quite simply, no reason why 
his Crucifixion, as the Gospels depict it, should have been, fatal. The contention that it 
was warrants closer scrutiny. 

The Roman practice of crucifixion adhered to very precise 
procedures. zs 

After sentence a victim would be flogged and consequently weakened by loss of blood. 
His outstretched arms would then be fastened usually by thongs but sometimes by nails to 
a heavy wooden beam placed horizontally across his neck and shoulders. Bearing this 
beam, he would then be led to the place of execution. Here, with the victim hanging from 
it, the beam would be raised and attached to a vertical post or stake. 
Hanging thus from his hands, it would be impossible for the victim to breathe unless his 
feet were also fixed to the cross, thus enabling him to press down on them and relieve the 
pressure on his chest. But, despite the agony, a man suspended with his feet fixed and 
especially a fit and healthy man would usually survive for at least a day or two. Indeed, 
the victim would often take as much as a week to die from exhaustion, from thirst, or, if 
nails were used, from blood poisoning. The attenuated agony could be terminated more 
quickly by breaking the victim's legs or knees which, in the Gospels, Jesus's executioners 
are about to do before they are forestalled. Breaking of the legs or knees was not an 
additional sadistic torment. On the contrary, it was an act of mercy a coup de grace which 
caused a very rapid death. With nothing to support him, the pressure on the victim's chest 
would become intolerable, and he would quickly asphyxiate. 
There is consensus among modern scholars that only the Fourth Gospel 
rests on an eyewitness account of the Crucifixion. According to the 

Gospel, Jesus's feet were affixed to the cross thus relieving the pressure on his chest 
muscles and his legs were not broken. He should therefore, in theory at least, have 
survived for a good two or three days. 

And yet he is on the cross for no more than a few hours before being pronounced dead. 
In the Gospel of Mark, even Pilate is astonished by the rapidity with which death occurs 
(Mark 15:44). 

What can have constituted the cause of death? Not the spear in his 
side, for the Fourth Gospel maintains that 


Jesus was already dead when this wound was inflicted on him. (John 

There is only one explanation a combination of exhaustion, fatigue, general debilitation 

and the trauma of the scourging. But not even these factors should have proved fatal so 

soon. It is possible, of course, that they did despite the laws of physiology, a man will 

sometimes die from a single relatively innocuous blow. But there would still seem to be 

something suspicious about the affair. According to the Fourth Gospel, Jesus's 

executioners are on the verge of breaking his legs, thus accelerating his death. Why 

bother, if he was already moribund? There would, in short, be no point in breaking 

Jesus's legs unless death were not in fact imminent. 

In the Gospels Jesus's death occurs at a moment that is almost too 

convenient, too felicitously opportune. It occurs just in time to 

prevent his executioners breaking his legs. And by doing so, it 

permits him to fulfill an Old Testament prophecy. Modern authorities 

agree that Jesus, quite unabashedly, modelled and perhaps contrived his 

life in accordance with such prophecies, which heralded the coming of a 

Messiah. It was for this reason that an ass had to be procured from 

Bethany on which he could make his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. And 

the details of the Crucifixion seem likewise engineered to enact the 

prophecies of the Old Testament .26 

In short Jesus's apparent and opportune demise' which in the nick of time, saves him from 

certain death and enables him to fulfill a prophecy is, to say the least, suspect. It is too 

perfect, too precise to be coincidence. It must either be a later interpolation after the fact, 

or part of a carefully contrived plan. There is much additional evidence to suggest the 


In the Fourth Gospel Jesus, hanging on the cross, declares that he thirsts. 

In reply to this complaint he is proffered a sponge allegedly soaked in 

vinegar an incident that also occurs in the other Gospels. This sponge 

is generally interpreted as another act of sadistic derision. But was 

it really? Vinegar or soured wine is a temporary stimulant, with 

effects not unlike smelling salts. It was often used at the time to 

resuscitate flagging slaves on galleys. For a wounded and exhausted 


man, a sniff or taste of vinegar would induce a restorative effect, a 

momentary surge of energy. And yet in Jesus's case the effect is just 

the contrary. No sooner does he inhale or taste the sponge then he 

pronounces his final words and "gives up the ghost'. Such a reaction 

to vinegar is physiologically inexplicable. On the other hand such a 

reaction would be perfectly compatible with a sponge soaked not in 

vinegar, but in some type of soporific drug a compound of opium and/or 

belladonna, for instance, commonly employed in the Middle East at the 

time. But why proffer a soporific drug? Unless the act of doing so, 

along with all the other components of the Crucifixion, were elements 

of a complex and ingenious stratagem a stratagem designed to produce a 

semblance of death when the victim, in fact, was still alive. Such a 

stratagem would not oily have saved 

Jesus's life, but also have realised the Old Testament prophecies of 



There are other anomalous aspects of the Crucifixion which point to precisely such a 

stratagem. According to the Gospels Jesus is crucified at a place called Golgotha, "the 

place of the skull'. Later tradition attempts to identify Golgotha as a barren, more or less 

skull-shaped hill to the north-west of Jerusalem. And yet the Gospels themselves make it 

clear that the site of the Crucifixion is very different from a barren skull-shaped hill. The 

Fourth Gospel is most explicit on the matter: "Now in the place where he was crucified 

there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid." 

(John 19:41) Jesus, then, was crucified not on a barren skull-shaped hill, nor, for that 

matter, in any "public place of execution'. He was crucified in or immediately adjacent to a 

garden containing a private tomb. According to Matthew (27:60) this tomb and garden 

were the personal property of Joseph of Arimathea who, according to all four Gospels, 

was both a man of wealth and a secret disciple of Jesus. 

Popular tradition depicts the Crucifixion as a large scale public 

affair, accessible to the multitude and attended by a cast of 

thousands. And yet the Gospels themselves suggest very different 

circumstances. According to 

Matthew, Mark and Luke, the Crucifixion is witnessed by most people, 

including the women, from "afar off (Luke 23:49). It would thus seem 

clear that Jesus's death was not a public event, but a private one a 


private crucifixion performed on private property. A number of modern 

scholars argue that the actual site was probably the Garden of Gethsemane. 

If Gethsemane were indeed the private land of one of Jesus's secret disciples, this would 

explain why Jesus, prior to the Crucifixion, could make such free use of the place." 

Needless to say a private crucifixion on private property leaves considerable room for a 

hoax a mock crucifixion, a skilfully stage-managed ritual. There would have been only a 

few eye-witnesses immediately present. To the general populace the drama would only 

have been visible, as the Synoptic Gospels confirm, from some distance. And from such 

a distance, it would not have been apparent who in fact was being crucified. Or if he was 

actually dead. 

Such a charade would, of course, have necessitated some connivance and 

collusion on the part of Pontius Pilate or of someone influential in 


Roman administration. And indeed such connivance and collusion is highly probable. 

Granted, Pilate was a cruel and tyrannical man. But he was also corrupt and susceptible 

to bribes. The historical Pilate, as opposed to the one depicted in the Gospels, would not 

have been above sparing Jesus's life in exchange for a sizeable sum of money and 

perhaps a guarantee of no further political agitation. 

Whatever his motivation, there is, in any case, no question that Pilate 

is somehow intimately involved in the affair. He acknowledges Jesus's 

claim as 

"King of the Jews'. He also expresses, or feigns to express, surprise 


Jesus's death occurs as quickly as it apparently does. And, perhaps most important of all, 

he grants Jesus's body to Joseph of Arimathe<i. 

According to Roman law at the time, a crucified man was denied all 

burial. =a Indeed guards were customarily posted to prevent relatives or 

friends removing the bodies of the dead. The victim would simply be 

left on the cross, at the mercy of the elements and carrion birds. Yet 

Pilate, in a flagrant breach of procedure, readily grants Jesus's body 

to Joseph of 

Arimathea. This clearly attests to some complicity on Pilate's part. 

And it may attest to other things as well. 


In English translations of Mark's Gospel Joseph asks Pilate for 

Jesus's body. Pilate expresses surprise that Jesus is dead, checks 

with a centurion, then, satisfied, consents to Joseph's request. This 

would appear straightforward enough at first glance; but in the 


Greek version of Mark's Gospel, the matter becomes rather more complicated. 

In the Greek version when Joseph asks for Jesus's body, he uses the 

word soma a word applied only to a living body. Pilate, assenting to 

the request, employs the word ptoma which means "corpse'. =9 According 

to the 

Greek, then, Joseph explicitly asks for a living body and Pilate grants him what he thinks, 

or pretends to think, is a dead one. 

Given the prohibition against burying crucified men, it is also extraordinary that Joseph 

receives any body at all. On what grounds does he receive it? What claim does he have 

to Jesus's body? If he was a secret disciple, -he could hardly plead any claim without 

disclosing his secret discipleship unless Pilate was already aware of it, or unless there 

was some other factor involved which militated in Joseph's favour. 

There is little information about Joseph of Arimathea. The Gospels report only that he 

was a secret disciple of Jesus, possessed great wealth and belonged to the Sanhedrin the 

Council of Elders which ruled the Judaic community of Jerusalem under Roman auspices. 

It would thus seem apparent that Joseph was an influential man. And this conclusion 

receives confirmation from his dealings with Pilate, and from the fact that he possesses a 

tract of land with a private tomb. 

Medieval tradition portrays Joseph of Arimathea as a custodian of the 


Grail; and Perceval is said to be of his lineage. According to other later traditions, he is in 

some way related by blood to Jesus and Jesus's family. 

If this was indeed the case, it would, at very least, have furnished 

him with some plausible claim to Jesus's body -for while Pilate would 

hardly grant the corpse of an executed criminal to a random stranger, 

he might well do so, with the incentive of a bribe, to the dead man's 

kin. If Joseph - a wealthy and influential member of the Sanhedrin was 

indeed Jesus's kin, he bears further testimony to Jesus's aristocratic 

pedigree. And if he was Jesus's kin, his association with the Holy 


Grail the "blood royal' would be all the more explicable. The 


We had already sketched a tentative hypothesis which proposed a bloodline descended 

from Jesus. We now began to enlarge on that hypothesis and albeit still provisionally fill in 

a number of crucial details. As we did so, the overall picture began to gain both 

coherence and plausibility. 

It seemed increasingly clear that Jesus was a priest-king an aristocrat 

and legitimate claimant to the throne -embarking on an attempt to 

regain his rightful heritage. He himself would have been a native of 

Galilee, a traditional hotbed of opposition to the Roman regime. At 

the same time, he would have had numerous noble, rich and influential 

supporters throughout 

Palestine, including the capital city of Jerusalem; and one of these supporters, a powerful 

member of the Sanhedrin, may also have been his kin. 

In the Jerusalem suburb of Bethany, moreover, was the home of either his wife or his 

wife's family; and here, on the eve of his triumphal entry into the capital, the aspiring 

priest-king resided. Here he established the centre for his mystery cult. Here he 

augmented his following by performing ritual initiations, including that of his brother-in-law. 

Such an aspiring priest-king would have generated powerful opposition in certain quarters 

inevitably among the Roman administration and perhaps among entrenched Judaic 

interests represented by the Sadducees. One or both of these interests apparently 

contrived to thwart his bid for the throne. 

But in their attempt to exterminate him they were not as successful as 

they had hoped to be. For the priest-king would seem to have had 

friends in high places; and these friends, working in collusion with a 

corrupt, easily bribed Roman Procurator, appear to have engineered a 

mock crucifixion on private grounds, inaccessible to all but a select 

few. With the general populace kept at a convenient distance, an 

execution was then staged in which a substitute took the priest-king's 

place on the cross, or in which the priest-king himself did not 

actually die. Towards dusk which would have further impeded visibility 

a "body' was removed to an opportunely adjacent tomb, from which, a day 


or two later, it "miraculously' disappeared. If our scenario was 

accurate, where did Jesus go then? So far as our hypothesis of a 

bloodline was concerned, the answer to that question did not 

particularly matter. According to certain~ Islamic and Indian legends, 

he eventually died at a ripe old age, somewhere in the East in Kashmir, 

it is claimed most frequently. On the other hand, an Australian 

journalist has put forward an intriguing and persuasive argument that 

Jesus died at 

Masada when the fortress fell to the Romans in A.D. 74 by which time he would have 

been approaching his eightieth year." 

According to the letter we received, the documents found by Berenger 

Sauniere at Rennes-leChateau contained "incontrovertible proof that Jesus was alive in 

A.D. 45, but there is no indication as to where. 

One likely possibility would be Egypt, and specifically Alexandria 

-where, at about the same time, the sage Ormus is said to have created the Rose- 
Croix by amalgamating Christianity with earlier, pre-Christian mysteries. It 
has even been hinted that Jesus' s mummified body may be concealed somewhere in 
the environs of Rennes-leChateau -which would explain the ciphered message in 

Sauniere' s parchments "IL EST LA MORT' ("He is there dead'). 

We are not prepared to assert that he accompanied his family to Marseilles. 

In fact, circumstances would argue against it. He might not have been in any condition to 

travel, and his presence would have constituted a threat to his relatives' safety. He may 

have deemed it more important to remain in the Holy Land like his brother, Saint James to 

pursue his objectives there. In short, we can offer no real suggestion about what became 

of him any more than the Gospels themselves do. 

For the purposes of our hypothesis, however, what happened to Jesus was 

of less importance than what happened to the holy family and especially 

to his brother-in-law, his wife and his children. If our scenario was 

correct, they, together with Joseph of Arimathea and certain others, 

were smuggled by ship from the Holy Land. And when they were set 

ashore at Marseilles, the Magdalene would indeed have brought the 

Sangraal the "blood royal', the scion of the house of David into 


France. 13 The Secret the Church Forbade 

We were well aware, of course, that our scenario did not concur with 

established Christian teachings. But the more we researched the more 

apparent it became that those teachings, as they have been passed down 

through the centuries, represent only a highly selective compilation of 

fragments, subjected to stringent expurgation and revision. The New 

Testament, in other words, offers a portrait of Jesus and his age that conforms to the 

needs of certain vested interests of certain groups and individuals who had, and to a 

significant degree still have, an important stake in the matter. And anything that might 

compromise or embarrass these interests like the "secret' Gospel of Mark, for example 

has been duly excised. So much has been excised, as a matter of fact, that a sort of 

vacuum has been created. In this vacuum speculation becomes both justified and 


If Jesus was a legitimate claimant to the throne, it is probable that he was supported, at 

least initially, by a relatively small percentage of the populace his immediate family from 

Galilee, certain other members of his own aristocratic social class, and a few strategically 

placed representatives in Judaea and the capital city of Jerusalem. 

Such a following, albeit distinguished, would hardly have been 

sufficient to ensure the realisation of his objectives the success of 

his bid for the throne. In consequence he would have been obliged to 

recruit a more substantial following from other classes in the same way 

that Bonnie 

Prince Charlie, to pursue a previous analogy, did in 1745. 

How does one recruit a sizeable following? Obviously by promulgating a 

message calculated to enlist their allegiance and support. Such a 

message need not necessarily have been as cynical as those associated 


with modern politics. On the contrary it may have been promulgated in 

perfectly good faith, with thoroughly noble and burning idealism. But despite its distinctly 

religious orientation, its primary objective would have been the same as those of modern 

politics to ensure the adherence of the populace. Jesus promulgated a message which 

attempted to do just that to offer hope to the downtrodden, the afflicted, the 

disenfranchised, the oppressed. In short it was a message with a promise. If the modern 

reader overcomes his prejudices and preconceptions on the matter, he will discern a 

mechanism extraordinarily akin to that visible everywhere in the world today a mechanism 

whereby people are, and always have been, united in the name of a common cause and 

welded into an instrument for the overthrow of a despotic regime. The point is that 

Jesus's message was both ethical and political. It was directed to a particular segment of 

the populace in accordance with political considerations. For it would only have been 

among the oppressed, the downtrodden, the disenfranchised and the afflicted that he 

could have hoped to recruit a sizeable following. The Sadducees, who had come to terms 

with the Roman occupation, would have been as loath as all the Sadducees throughout 

history to part with what they possessed, or to risk their security and stability. 

Jesus's message, as it appears in the Gospels, is neither wholly new 

nor wholly unique. It is probable that he himself was a Pharisee, and 

his teachings contain a number of elements of Pharisaic doctrine. As 

the Dead 

Sea Scrolls attest, they also contain a number of important aspects 


Essene thought. But if the message, as such, was not entirely original, the means of 

transmitting it probably was. Jesus himself was undoubtedly an immensely charismatic 

individual. He may well have had an aptitude for healing and other such "miracles'. He 

certainly possessed a gift for communicating his ideas by means of evocative and vivid 

parables which did not require any sophisticated training in his audience, but were 

accessible, in some sense, to the populace at large. 

Moreover, unlike his 

Essene precursors, Jesus was not obliged to confine himself to 

forecasting the advent of a Messiah. He could claim to be that 

Messiah. And this, quite naturally, would have imparted a much greater 


authority and credibility to his words. It is clear that by the time 

of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem Jesus had recruited a following. But this following 

would have been composed of two quite distinct elements whose interests were not 

precisely the same. 

On the one hand there would have been a small nucleus of "initiates' immediate family, 

other members of the nobility, wealthy and influential supporters, whose primary objective 

was to see their candidate installed on the throne. On the other hand there would have 

been a much larger entourage of "common people' the "rank and file' of the movement 

whose primary objective was to see the message, and the promise it contained, fulfilled. 

It is important to recognise the distinction between these two factions. 

Their political objective to establish Jesus on the throne would have been the same. But 

their motivations would have been essentially different. 

When the enterprise failed, as it obviously did, the uneasy alliance between these two 

factions "adherents of the message' and adherents of the family would seem to have 

collapsed. Confronted by debacle and the threat of imminent annihilation, the family 

would have placed a priority on the single factor which, from time immemorial, has been of 

paramount importance to noble and royal families preservation of the bloodline at all costs 

and, if necessary, in exile. For the "adherents of the message' however, the family's 

future would have become irrelevant. For them survival of the bloodline would have been 

of secondary consequence. Their primary objective would have been perpetuation and 

dissemination of the message. 

Christianity, as it evolves through its early centuries and eventually comes down to us 

today, is a product of the "adherents of the message'. 

The course of its spread and development has been too widely charted by 

other scholars to necessitate much attention here. Suffice it to say 

that with 

Saint Paul, 'the message' had already begun to assume a crystallised and definitive form; 

and this form became the basis on which the whole theological edifice of Christianity was 

erected. By the time the Gospels were composed, the basic tenets of the new religion 

were virtually complete. 

The new religion was oriented primarily towards a Roman or Romanised 


audience. Thus the role of Rome in Jesus's death was, of necessity, 

whitewashed, and guilt was transferred to the Jews. But this was not the only liberty taken 

with events to render them palatable to the Roman world. For the Roman world was 

accustomed to deifying its rulers, and Caesar had already been officially instated as a 

god. In order to compete, Jesus whom nobody had previously deemed divine had to be 

deified as well. In Paul's hands he was. 

Before it could be successfully disseminated from Palestine to Syria, 

Asia Minor, Greece, Egypt, Rome and Western Europe the new religion had 

to be made acceptable to the people of those regions. And it had to be 

capable of holding its own against already established creeds. The new 

god, in short, had to be comparable in power, in majesty, in repertoire 

of miracles, to those he was intended to displace. If Jesus was to 

gain a foothold in the Romanised world of his time, he had perforce to 

become a fully fledged god. Not a Messiah in the old sense of that 

term, not a priest-king, but God incarnate who, like his Syrian, 

Phoenician, Egyptian and classical counterparts, passed through the 

underworld and the harrowing of Hell and emerged, rejuvenated, with the 

spring. It was at this point that the idea of the Resurrection first 

assumed such crucial importance, and for a fairly obvious reason to 

place Jesus on a par with Tammuz, 

Adonis, Attis, Osiris and all the other dying and reviving gods who 

populated both the world and the consciousness of their time. For 

precisely the same reason the doctrine of the virgin birth was 

promulgated. And the 


Easter festival -the festival of death and resurrection was made to coincide with the spring 



Given the need to disseminate a god myth, the actual corporeal family 

of the "god', and the political and dynastic elements in his story, 

would have become superfluous. Fettered as they were to a specific 

time and place, they would have detracted from his claim to 

universality. Thus, to further the claim of universality, all 

political and dynastic elements were rigorously excised from Jesus's 

biography. And thus all references to 

Zealots, for example, and Essenes, were also discreetly removed. Such 

references would have been, at the very least, embarrassing. It would 


not have appeared seemly for a god to be involved in a complex and 

ultimately ephemeral political and dynastic conspiracy and especially one that failed. In 

the end nothing was left but what was contained in the Gospels an account of austere, 

mythic simplicity, occurring only incidentally in the Roman-occupied Palestine of the first 

century and primarily in the eternal present of all myth. 

While "the message' developed in this fashion, the family and its supporters do not seem 

to have been idle. Julius Africanus, writing in the first century, reports that Jesus's 

surviving relatives bitterly accused the Herodian rulers of destroying the genealogies of 

Jewish nobles, thereby removing all evidence that might challenge their claim to the 

throne. And these same relatives are said to have "migrated through the world', carrying 

with them certain genealogies which had escaped the destruction of documents during the 

revolt between A.D. 66 and 74." 

For the propagators of the new myth, the existence of this family would quickly have 

become more than an irrelevance. It would have become a potential embarrassment of 

daunting proportions. For the family who could bear first-hand testimony to what really 

and historically happened would have constituted a dangerous threat to the myth. Indeed, 

on the basis of first-hand knowledge, the family could have exploded the myth completely. 

Thus in the early days of Christianity all mention of a noble or royal 

family, of a bloodline, of political or dynastic ambitions would have 

had to be suppressed. And since the cynical realities of the situation 

must be acknowledged the family itself, who might betray the new 

religion, should, if at all possible, be exterminated. Hence the need 

for the utmost secrecy on the part of the family. Hence the 

intolerance of early Church fathers towards any deviation from the 

orthodoxy they endeavoured to impose: And hence also, perhaps, one of 

the origins of anti-Semitism. In effect the "adherents of the message' 

and propagators of the myth would have accomplished a dual purpose by 

blaming the Jews and exonerating the 

Romans. They would not only have made the myth and "the message' 

palatable to a Roman audience. They would also, since the family was 

Jewish, have impugned the family's credibility. And the anti-Jewish 

feeling they engendered would have furthered their objectives still 


more. If the family had found refuge in a Jewish community somewhere 

within the empire, popular persecution might, in its momentum, conveniently silence 

dangerous witnesses. 

By pandering to a Roman audience, deifying Jesus and casting the Jews 

as scapegoats, the spread of what subsequently became Christian 

orthodoxy was assured of success. The position of this orthodoxy began 

to consolidate itself definitively in the second century, principally 

through Irenaeus, 

Bishop of Lyons around A.D. 180. Probably more than any other early Church father, 

Irenaeus contrived to impart to Christian theology a stable and coherent form. He 

accomplished this primarily by means of a voluminous work, Libros Quinque Adversus 

Haereses ("Five Books against Heresies'). In his exhaustive opus Irenaeus catalogued all 

deviations from the coalescing orthodoxy, and vehemently condemned them. Deploring 

diversity, he maintained there could be only one valid church, outside which there could 

be no salvation. Whoever challenged this assertion, Irenaeus declared to be a heretic to 

be expelled and, if possible, destroyed. 

Among the numerous diverse forms of early Christianity, it was Gnosticism that incurred 

Irenaeus's most vituperative wrath. Gnosticism rested on personal experience, personal 

union with the divine. For Irenaeus this naturally undermined the authority of priests and 

bishops, and so impeded the attempt to impose uniformity. As a result he devoted his 

energies to suppressing Gnosticism. To this end it was necessary to discourage 

individual speculation, and to encourage unquestioning faith in fixed dogma. A theological 

system was required, a structure of codified tenets which allowed of no interpretation by 

the individual. In opposition to personal experience and gnosis, Irenaeus insisted on a 

single "catholic' (that is universal) church resting on apostolic foundation and succession. 

And to implement the creation of such a church, Irenaeus recognised the need for a 

definitive canon a fixed list of authoritative writings. 

Accordingly he compiled such a canon, sifting through the available 

works, including some, excluding others. Irenaeus is the first writer 

whose New 

Testament canon conforms essentially to that of the present day. 


Such measures, of course, did not prevent the spread of early 

heresies. On the contrary, they continued to flourish. But with 

Irenaeus, orthodoxy the type of Christianity promulgated by the "adherents of the 

message' assumed a coherent form that ensured its survival and eventual triumph. It is 

not unreasonable to claim that Irenaeus paved the way for what occurred during and 

immediately after the reign of Constantine under whose auspices the Roman Empire 

became, in some sense, a Christian empire. 

The role of Constantine in the history and development of Christianity has been fals5fied, 

misrepresented and misunderstood. The spurious eighth-century "Donation of 

Constantine', discussed in Chapter 9, has served to confuse matters even further in the 

eyes of subsequent writers. 

Nevertheless, Constantine is often credited with the decisive victory of the "adherents of 

the message' and not wholly without justification. We were therefore obliged to consider 

him more closely, and in order to do so we had to dispel certain of the more fanciful and 

specious accomplishments ascribed to him. 

According to later Church tradition. Constantine had inherited from 

his father a sympathetic predisposition towards Christianity. In fact 

this predisposition seems to have been primarily a matter of 

expediency, for 

Christians by then were numerous and Constantine needed all the help he 

could get against Maxentius, his rival for the imperial throne. In 


Maxentius was routed at the Battle of Milvian Bridge, thus leaving 

Constantine's claim unchallenged. Immediately before this crucial 

engagement Constantine is said to have had a vision later reinforced by 

a prophetic dream of a luminous cross hanging in the sky. A sentence 

was supposedly inscribed across it In Hoc Signo Vinces ("By this sign 

you will conquer'). Tradition recounts that Constantine, deferring to 

this celestial portent, ordered the shields of his troops hastily 

emblazoned with the Christian monogram the Greek letter Chi Rho, the 

first two letters of the word "Christos'. As a result Constantine's 

victory over 

Maxentius at Milvian Bridge came to represent a miraculous triumph of 

Christianity over paganism. 

This, then, is the popular Church tradition, on the basis of which 

Constantine is often thought to have "converted the Roman Empire to 


Christianity'. In actual fact, however, Constantine did no such 

thing. But in order to decide precisely what he did do, we must examine the evidence 

more closely. 

In the first place Constantine's "conversion' if that is the appropriate word does not seem 

to have been Christian at all but unabashedly pagan. 

He appears to have had some sort of vision, or numinous experience, in 

the precincts of a pagan temple to the Gallic Apollo, either in the 

Vosges or near Autun. According to a witness accompanying 

Constantine's army at the time, the vision was of the sun god the deity 

worshipped by certain cults under the name of "Sol Invictus', "the 

Invincible Sun'. There is evidence that Constantine, just before his 

vision, had been initiated into a Sol 

Invictus cult. In any case the Roman Senate, after the Battle of 


Bridge, erected a triumphal arch in the Colosseum. According to the 

inscription on this arch, Constantine's victory was won "through the 

prompting of the Deity'. But the Deity in question was not Jesus. It 


Sol Invictus, the pagan sun god. z 

Contrary to tradition, Constantine did not make Christianity the 

official state religion of Rome. The state religion of Rome under 

Constantine was, in fact, pagan sun worship; and Constantine, all his 

life, acted as its chief priest. Indeed his reign was called a "sun 

emperor ship and Sol 

Invictus figured everywhere including the imperial banners and the 

coinage of the realm. The image of Constantine as a fervent convert 


Christianity is clearly wrong. He himself was not even baptised until 

337 when he lay on his deathbed and was apparently too weakened or too 

apathetic to protest. Nor can he be credited with the Chi Rho 

monogram. An inscription bearing this monogram was found on a tomb at 

Pompeii, dating from two and a half centuries before. 3 

The cult of Sol Invictus was Syrian in origin and imposed by Roman 

emperors on their subjects a century before Constantine. Although it 

contained elements of Baal and Astarte worship, it was essentially 

monotheistic. In effect, it posited the sun god as the sum of all 

attributes of all other gods, and thus peacefully subsumed its 

potential rivals. Moreover, it conveniently harmonised with the cult 

of Mithras which was also prevalent in Rome and the empire at the time, 


and which also involved solar worship. For Constantine the cult of 

Sol Invictus was, quite simply, expedient. His primary, indeed obsessive, objective was 

unity unity in politics, in religion and in territory. A cult, or state religion, that included all 

other cults within it obviously abetted this objective. And it was under the auspices of the 

Sol Invictus cult that Christianity consolidated its position. 

Christian orthodoxy had much in common with the cult of Sol Invictus; 

and thus the former was able to flourish unmolested under the taller's 

umbrella of tolerance. The cult of Sol Invictus, being essentially 

monotheistic, paved the way for the monotheism of Christianity. And 

the cult of Sol 

Invictus was convenient in other respects as well -respects which both modified and 

facilitated the spread of Christianity. By an edict promulgated in A.D. 321 , for example, 

Constantine ordered the law courts closed on 'the venerable day of the sun', and decreed 

that this day be a day of rest. Christianity had hitherto held the Jewish Sabbath Saturday 

as sacred. Now, in accordance with Constantine's edict, it transferred its sacred day to 

Sunday. This not only brought it into harmony with the existing regime, but also permitted 

it to further dissociate itself from its Judaic origins. Until the fourth century, moreover, 

Jesus's birthday had been celebrated on January 6 th . 

For the cult of Sol Invictus, however, the crucial day of the year was 

December 25 th the festival of Natalis 

Invictus, the birth (or rebirth) of the sun, when the days began to grow longer. In this 

respect, too, Christianity brought itself into alignment with the regime and the established 

state religion. 

The cult of Sol Invictus meshed happily with that of Mithras so much 

so, indeed, that the two are often confused. 4 Both emphasised the 

status of the sun. Both held Sunday as sacred. Both celebrated a 

major birth festival on 

December 25 th . As a result Christianity could also find points of convergence with 

Mithraism the more so as Mithraism stressed the immortality of the soul, a future judgment 

and the resurrection of the dead. 

In the interests of unity Constantine deliberately chose to blur the distinctions between 

Christianity, Mithraism and Sol Invictus deliberately chose not to see any contradiction 

between them. Thus he tolerated the deified Jesus as the earthly manifestation of Sol 



Thus he would build a Christian church and, at the same time, statues 

of the Mother 

Goddess Cybele and of Sol Invictus, the sun god the latter being an 

image of himself, bearing his features. In such eclectic and 

ecumenical gestures, the emphasis on unity can be seen again. Faith, 

in short, was for 

Constantine a political matter; and any faith that was conducive to unity was treated with 


While Constantine was not, therefore, the "good Christian' that later tradition depicts, he 

consolidated, in the name of unity and uniformity, the status of Christian orthodoxy. In 

A.D. 325, for example, he convened the Council of Nicea. At this council the dating of 

Easter was established. 

Rules were framed which defined the, authority of bishops, thereby paving the way for a 

concentration of power in ecclesiastical hands. 

Most important of all, the Council of Nicea decided, by vote, 5 that 

Jesus was a god, not a mortal prophet. Again, however, it must be 

emphasised that 

Constantine's paramount consideration was not piety but unity and 

expediency. As a god Jesus could be associated conveniently with Sol 

Invictus. As a mortal prophet he would have been more difficult to accommodate. In 

short, Christian orthodoxy lent itself to a politically desirable fusion with the official state 

religion; and in so far as it did so Constantine conferred his support upon Christian 


Thus, a year after the Council of Nicea, he sanctioned the confiscation 

and destruction of all works that challenged orthodox teachings works 

by pagan authors that referred to Jesus, as well as works by 


Christians. He also arranged for a fixed income to be allocated to 


Church and installed the bishop of Rome in the Lateran Palaces Then, 


A.D. 331 , he commissioned and financed new copies of the Bible. This constituted one of 

the single most decisive factors in the entire history of Christianity, and provided Christian 

orthodoxy the "adherents of the message' with an unparalleled opportunity. 

In A.D. 303, a quarter of a century before, the pagan Emperor 

Diocletian had undertaken to destroy all Christian writings that could 

be found. As a result Christian documents especially in Rome all but 

vanished. When 


Constantine, commissioned new versions of these documents, it enabled 

the custodians of orthodoxy to revise, edit and re-write their material 

as they saw fit, in accordance with their tenets. It was at this point 

that most of the crucial alterations in the New 

Testament were probably made, and Jesus assumed the unique status he 

has enjoyed ever since. The importance of Constantine's commission 

must not be underestimated. Of the five thousand extant early 

manuscript versions of the 

New Testament, not one pre-dates the fourth century." The New Testament, as it exists 

today, is essentially a product of fourth-century editors and writers custodians of 

orthodoxy, "adherents of the message', with vested interests to protect. 

The Zealots 

After Constantine the course of Christian orthodoxy is familiar enough and well 

documented. Needless to say it culminated in the final triumph of the "adherents of the 

message'. But if "the message established itself as the guiding and governing principle of 

Western civilisation, it did not remain wholly unchallenged. Even from its incognito exile, 

the claims and the very existence of the family would seem to have exerted a powerful 

appeal an appeal which, more often than was comfortable, posed a threat to the 

orthodoxy of Rome. 

Roman orthodoxy rests essentially on the books of the New Testament. But the New 

Testament itself is only a selection of early Christian documents dating from the fourth 

century. There are a great many other works that pre-date the New Testament in its 

present form, some of which cast a significant, often controversial, new light on the 

accepted accounts. 

There are, for instance, the diverse books excluded from the Bible, which comprise the 

compilation now known' as the Apocrypha. Some of the works in the Apocrypha are 

admittedly late, dating from the sixth century. Other works, however, were already in 

circulation as early as the second century, and may well have as great a claim to veracity 

as the original Gospels themselves. 


One such work is the Gospel of Peter, a copy of which was first 

located in a valley of the upper Nile in 1 886, although it is mentioned 

by the bishop of Antioch in A.D. 180. According to this "apocryphal' 

Gospel, Joseph of Arimathea was a close friend of Pontius 

Pilate which, if true, would increase the likelihood of a fraudulent 

Crucifixion. The Gospel of Peter also reports that the tomb in which 

Jesus was buried lay in a place called "the garden of Joseph'. And 

Jesus's last words on the cross are particularly striking: "My power, 

my power, why hast thou forsaken Me? 18 

Another apocryphal work of interest is the Gospel of the Infancy of 


Christ, which dates from no later than the second century and possibly from before. In 

this book Jesus is portrayed as a brilliant but eminently human child. All too human 

perhaps for he is violent and unruly, prone to shocking displays of temper and a rather 

irresponsible exercise of his powers. Indeed, on one occasion he strikes dead another 

child who offends him. t1 similar fate is visited-upon an autocratic mentor. Such incidents 

are undoubtedly spurious, but they, attest to the way in which, at the time, Jesus had to be 

depicted if he were to attain divine status amongst his following. 

In addition to Jesus's rather scandalous behaviour as a child, there is 

one curious and perhaps significant fragment in the Gospel of the 

Infancy. When 

Jesus was circumcised, his foreskin was said to have been appropriated 

by an unidentified old woman who preserved it in an alabaster box used 

for oil of spikenard. And "This is that alabaster box which Mary the 

sinner procured and poured forth the ointment out of it upon the head 

and the feet of our Lord Jesus Christ."9 

Here, then, as in the accepted Gospels, there is an anointing which is 

obviously more than it appears to bean anointing tantamount to some 

significant ritual. In this case, however, it is clear that the 

anointing has been foreseen and prepared long in advance. And the 

whole incident implies a connection albeit an obscure and convoluted 

one between the 

Magdalene and Jesus's family long before Jesus embarked on his mission at the age of 

thirty. It is reasonable to assume that Jesus's parents would not have conferred his 

foreskin on the first old woman to request it even if there were nothing unusual in so 

apparently odd a request. 


The old woman must therefore be someone of consequence and/or someone 

on intimate terms with Jesus's parents. Aad the Magdalene's subsequent possession of 

the bizarre relic -or, at any rate, of its container suggests a connection between her and 

the old woman. Again we seem to be confronted by the shadowy vestiges of something 

that was more important than is now generally believed. 

Certain passages in the books of the Apocrypha the flagrant excesses 


Jesus's childhood, for example were undoubtedly embarrassing to later 

orthodoxy. They would certainly be so to most Christians today. But 

it must be remembered that the Apocrypha, like the accepted books of 

the New 

Testament, was composed by "adherents of the message', intent on 


Jesus. The Apocrypha cannot therefore be expected to contain anything that might 

seriously compromise the "message' which any mention of Jesus's political activity, still 

more of his possible dynastic ambitions, manifestly would. For evidence on such 

controversial matters as those, we were obliged to look elsewhere. 

The Holy Land in Jesus's time contained a bewildering number of 


Judaic groups, factions, sects and sub sects In the Gospels, only two 

of these, the Pharisees and Sadducees, are cited, and both are cast in 

the roles of villains. However, the role of villain would only have 

been appropriate to the Sadducees, who did collaborate with the Roman 

administration. The Pharisees maintained a staunch opposition to Rome; 


Jesus himself, if not actually a Pharisee, acted essentially within 


Pharisee tradition." 

In order to appeal to a Romanised audience, the Gospels were obliged to 

exonerate Rome and blacken the Jews. This explains why the Pharisees 

had to be misrepresented and deliberately stigmatised along with their 

genuinely culpable countrymen, the Sadducees. But why is there no 

mention in the 

Gospels of the Zealots the militant nationalistic "freedom fighters' 

and revolutionaries who, if anything, a Roman audience would only too 

eagerly have seen as villains? There would seem to be no explanation 

for their apparent omission from the Gospels unless Jesus was so 

closely associated with them that this association could not possibly 

be disowned, only glossed over and thereby concealed. As Professor 

Brandon argues: "The 


Gospels' silence about Zealots ... must surely be indicative of a 

relationship between Jesus and these patrons which the Evangelists preferred not to 


Whatever Jesus's possible association with the Zealots, there is no 

question but that he was crucified as one. Indeed the two men 

allegedly crucified with him are explicitly described as les tai the 

appellation by which the Zealots were known to the Romans. It is 

doubtful that Jesus himself was a Zealot. Nevertheless, he displays, 

at odd moments in the 

Gospels, an aggressive militarism quite comparable to theirs. In one 

awkwardly famous passage, he announces that he has come "not to bring 

peace, but a sword'. In Luke's Gospel, he instructs those of his 

followers who do not possess a sword to purchase one (Luke 22:36); and 

he himself then checks and approves that they are armed after the 

Passover meal (Luke 22:38). In the Fourth Gospel Simon Peter is 

actually carrying a sword when 

Jesus is arrested. It is difficult to reconcile such references with the conventional image of 

a mild pacifist saviour. Would such a saviour have sanctioned the bearing of arms, 

particularly by one of his favourite disciples, the one on whom he supposedly founded his 


If Jesus was not himself a Zealot, the Gospels -seemingly despite 

themselves betray and establish his connection with that militant 

faction. There is persuasive evidence to associate Barabbas with 

Jesus; and 

Barabbas is also described as a les tai James, John and Simon Peter 

all have appellations which may hint obliquely at Zealot sympathies, if 


Zealot involvement. According to modern authorities, Judas Iscariot 

derives from "Judas the Sicarii' and "Sicarii' was yet another term for 

Zealot, interchangeable with les tai Indeed the Sicarii seem to have 

been an elite within the Zealot ranks, a crack cadre of professional 

assassins. Finally there is the disciple known as Simon. In the Greek 

version of Mark, Simon is called Kananaios - a Greek transliteration of 

the Aramaic word for 

Zealot. In the King James Bible, the Greek word is mistranslated and 

Simon appears as "Simon the Canaanite'. But the Gospel of Luke leaves 

no room for doubt. Simon is clearly identified as a Zealot, and even 

the King James 

Bible introduces him as "Simon Zelotes'. It would thus seem fairly 


indisputable that Jesus numbered at least one Zealot among his 


If the absence or, rather, apparent absence of the Zealots from the 

Gospels is striking, so too is that of the Essenes. In the Holy Land 


Jesus's time, the Essenes constituted a sect as important as the Pharisees and 

Sadducees, and it is inconceivable that Jesus did not come into contact with them. 

Indeed, from the account given of him, John the Baptist would seem to have been an 

Essene. The omission of any reference to the Essenes seems to have been dictated by 

the same considerations that dictated omission of virtually all references to the Zealots. In 

short Jesus's connections with the Essenes, like his connections with the Zealots, were 

probably too close and too well known to be denied. They could only be glossed over and 


From historians and chroniclers writing at the time, it is known that 


Essenes maintained communities throughout the Holy Land and, quite possibly, 

elsewhere as well. They began to appear around 150 B.C." and they used the Old 

Testament, but interpreted it more as allegory than as literal historical truth. They 

repudiated conventional Judaism in favour of a form of Gnostic dualism which seems to 

have incorporated dements of sun worship and Pythagorean thought. They practised 

healing and were esteemed for their expertise in therapeutic techniques. Finally they 

were rigorously ascetic, and readily distinguished by their simple white garb. 

Most modern authorities on the subject believe the famous Dead Sea 

Scrolls found at Qumran to be essentially Essene documents. And there 

is no question that the sect of ascetics living at Qumran had much in 

common with 

Essene thought. Like Essene teaching, the Dead Sea Scrolls reflect a 

dualist theology. At the same time they lay a great stress on the 

coming of a Messiah an "anointed one' descended from the line of 

David." They also adhere to a special calendar, according to which the 

Passover service was celebrated not on Friday, but on Wednesday which 

agrees with the 

Passover service in the Fourth Gospel. And in a number of significant 

respects they coincide, almost word for word, with some of Jesus's 

teaching. At the very least it would appear that Jesus was aware of 



Qumran community and, to some extent at any rate, brought his own 

teachings into accord with theirs. One modern expert on the Dead Sea 

Scrolls believes that they "give added ground for believing that many 

incidents fin the New Testament] are merely projections into Jesus' own 

history of what was expected of the Messiah' .13 

Whether the Qumran sect were technically Essenes or not, it seems clear that Jesus even 

if he did not undergo formal Essene training was well versed in Essene thought. Indeed, 

many of his teachings echo those ascribed to the Essenes. And his aptitude for healing 

likewise suggests some Essene influence. But a closer scrutiny of the Gospels reveals 

that the Essenes may have figured even more significantly in Jesus's career. 

The Essenes were readily identifiable by their white garments which, 

paintings and cinema notwithstanding, were less common in the Holy Land 

at the time than is generally believed. In the suppressed "secret' 

Gospel of 

Mark, a white linen robe plays an important ritual role -and it recurs later even in the 

accepted authorised version. If Jesus was conducting mystery school initiations at 

Bethany or elsewhere, the white linen robe suggests that these initiations may well have 

been Essene in character. 

What is more, the motif of the white linen robe recurs later in all 


Gospels. After the Crucifixion Jesus's body "miraculously' disappears from the tomb 

which is found to be occupied by at least one white-clad figure. 

In Matthew it is an angel in "raiment white as snow' (28:3). In Mark it is "a young man in 

long white garment' (1 6:5). Luke reports that there were "two men ... in shining garments' 

(24:4), while the Fourth Gospel speaks of "two angels in white' (20:12). In two of these 

accounts the figure or figures in the tomb are not even accorded any supernatural status. 

Presumably, these figures are thoroughly mortal and yet, it would appear, unknown to the 

disciples. It is certainly reasonable to suppose that they are Essenes. And given the 

Essenes' aptitude for healing, such a supposition becomes even more tenable. If Jesus, 

on being removed from the cross, was indeed still alive, the services of a healer would 

clearly have been required. Even if he were dead, a healer is likely to have been present, 

if only as a "forlorn hope'. 


And there were no more esteemed healers in the Holy Land at the time 
than the Essenes. 

According to our scenario a mock Crucifixion on private ground was arranged, with 
Pilate's collusion, by certain of Jesus's supporters. More specifically it would have been 
arranged not primarily by "adherents of the message', but by adherents to the bloodline 
immediate family, in other words, and/or other aristocrats and/or members of an inner 
circle. These individuals may well have had Essene connections or have been Essenes 
themselves. To the "adherents of the message', however the "rank and file' of Jesus's 
following, epitomised by Simon Peter the stratagem would not have been divulged. 
On being carried to Joseph of Arimathea's tomb, Jesus would have required medical 
attention, for which an Essene healer would have been present. And afterwards, when 
the tomb was found to be vacant, an emissary would again have been necessary an 
emissary unknown to the "rank and file' disciples. 

This emissary would have had to reassure the unsuspecting "adherents of the message', 
to act as intermediary between Jesus and his following and to forestall charges of grave- 
robbing or grave desecration against the Romans, which might have provoked dangerous 
civic disturbances. 

Whether this scenario was accurate or not, it seemed to us fairly clear 
that Jesus was as closely associated with the Essenes as he was with 

Zealots. At first this might seem somewhat odd, for the Zealots and 

Essenes are often imagined to have been incompatible. The Zealots were 
aggressive, violent, militaristic, not averse to assassination and 
terrorism. The Essenes, in contrast, are frequently depicted as 
divorced from political issues, quietist, pacifist and gentle. In 
actual fact, however, the Zealots included numerous Essenes in their 
ranks for the 

Zealots were not a sect but a political faction. As a political 
faction they drew support not only from the anti Roman Pharisees, but 
from the 

Essenes as well who could be as aggressively nationalistic as anyone else. 
The association of the Zealots and the Essenes is especially evident in 
the writings of Josephus, from whom much of the available information 

Palestine at the time derives. Joseph ben Matthias was born into the 
Judaic nobility in A.D. 3 7. On the outbreak of the revolt in A.D. 66 


he was appointed governor of Galilee, where he assumed command of the 

forces aligned against the Romans. As a military commander he seems to have proved 

signally inept, and was promptly captured by the Roman Emperor Vesnasian. 

Thereupon he turned Quisling. Taking the Romanised name of Flavius Josephus, he 

became a Roman citizen, divorced his wife and married a Roman heiress, and accepted 

lavish gifts from the Roman emperor -which included a private apartment in the imperial 

palace, as well as land confiscated from Jews in the Holy Land. Around the time of his 

death in A.D. 100, his copious chronicles of the period began to appear. 

In The Jewish War Josephus offers a detailed account of the revolt 


A.D. 66 and 74. Indeed, it was from Josephus that subsequent historians learned most 

about that disastrous insurrection, the sack of Jerusalem and the razing of the Temple. 

And Josephus's work also contains the only account of the fall, in A.D. 74, of the fortress 

of Masada, situated at the south-western corner of the Dead Sea. 

Like Montsegur some twelve hundred years later Masada has come to symbolise tenacity, 

heroism and martyrdom in defence of a lost cause. 

Like Montsegur it continued to resist the invader long after virtually 

all other organised resistance had ceased. While the rest of Palestine 

collapsed beneath the 

Roman onslaught, Masada continued to be impregnable. At last, in A.D. 74, the position 

of the fortress became untenable. After sustained bombardment with heavy siege 

machinery, the Romans installed a ramp which put them into a position to breach the de 

fences On the night of April 15 th they prepared for a general assault. On that same night 

the 960 men, women, and children within the fortress committed suicide en masse. When 

the Romans burst through the gate the following morning, they found only corpses amid 

the flames. 

Josephus himself accompanied the Roman troops who entered the husk of 

Masada on the morning of April 1 6 th . He claims to have witnessed the 

carnage personally. And he claims to have interviewed three survivors 

of the debacle a woman and two children who supposedly hid in the 

conduits beneath the fortress while the rest of the garrison killed 


themselves. From these survivors Josephus reports that he obtained a 

detailed account of what had transpired the night before. According to 

this account the commander of the garrison was a man named Eleazar a 

variant, interestingly enough, of Lazarus. And it seems to have been 

Eleazar who, by his persuasive and charismatic eloquence, led the 

defenders to their grisly decision. In his chronicle Josephus 


Eleazar's speeches, as he claims to have heard them from the survivors. 

And these speeches are extremely interesting. History reports that 

Masada was defended by militant Zealots. Josephus himself uses the 

words "Zealots' and 

"Sicarii' interchangeably. And yet Eleazar's speeches are not even 

conventionally Judaic. On the contrary, they are unmistakably 


Gnostic and dualist: 

Ever since primitive man began to think, the words of our ancestors and of the gods, 

supported by the actions and spirit of our forefathers, have constantly impressed on us 

that life is the calamity for man, not death. 

Death gives freedom to our souls and lets them depart to their own pure home where they 

will know nothing of any calamity; but while they are confined within a mortal body and 

share its miseries, in strict truth they are dead. 

For association of the divine with the mortal is most improper. 

Certainly the soul can do a great deal even when imprisoned in the 

body: it makes the body its own organ of sense, moving it invisibly and 

impelling it in its actions further than mortal nature can reach. But 

when, freed from the weight that drags it down to earth and is hung 

about it, the soul returns to its own place, then in truth it partakes 

of a blessed power and an utterly unfettered strength, remaining as 

invisible to human eyes as God 

Himself. Not even while it is in the body can it be viewed; it enters 

undetected and departs unseen, having itself one imperishable nature, 

but causing a change in the body; for whatever the soul touches lives 

and blossoms, whatever it deserts withers and dies: such a 

superabundance it has of immortality. 14 

And again: 

They are men of true courage who, regarding this life as a kind of 


service we must render to nature, undergo it with reluctance and 

hasten to release their souls from their bodies; and though no 

misfortune presses or drives them away, desire for immortal life impels 

them to inform their friends that they are going to depart. "S 

It is extraordinary that no scholar, to our knowledge, has ever 

commented on these speeches before, for they raise a multitude of 

provocative questions. At no point, for example, does orthodox Judaism 

ever speak of a soul' still less of its "immortal' or "imperishable' 

nature. Indeed, the very concept of a soul and of immortality is alien 

to the mainstream of 

Judaic tradition and thought. So, too, is the supremacy of spirit over matter, the union with 

God in death, and the condemnation of life as evil. 

These attitudes derive, quite unequivocally, from a mystery tradition. They are patently 

Gnostic and dualist; and, in the context of Masada, are characteristically Essene. 

Certain of these attitudes, of course, may also be described as in some 

sense "Christian'. Not necessarily as that word subsequently came to 

be defined, but as it might have been applied to Jesus's original 

followers those, for example, who wished to join Lazarus in death in 

the Fourth 

Gospel. It is possible that the defenders of Masada included some 

adherents to Jesus's bloodline. During the revolt of A.D. 66 to 74 

there were numerous "Christians' who fought against the Romans as 

vigorously as did the Jews. Many Zealots, in fact, were what would now 

be called "early 

Christians'; and it is quite likely that there were some of them at Masada. 

Josephus, of course, suggests nothing of this sort -although even if he 

once did, it would have been excised by subsequent editors. At the 

same time, one would expect Josephus, writing a history of Palestine 

during the first century, to make some mention of Jesus. Granted, many 

later editions of Josephus's work do contain such references; but these 

references conform to the Jesus of established orthodoxy, and most 

modern scholars dismiss them as spurious interpolations dating from no 

earlier than the time of 

Constantine. In the nineteenth century, however, an edition of 

Josephus was discovered in Russia which differed from all others. The 

text itself, translated into Old Russian, dated from approximately 


1 261 . The man who transcribed it was not an orthodox Jew, because he 

retained many 'pro-Christian' allusions. And yet 

Jesus, in this version of Josephus, is described as human, as a political revolutionary and 

as a "king who did not reign'. 16 He is also said to have had "a line in the middle of his 

head in the manner of the Nazireans."" 

Scholars have expended much paper and energy disputing the possible authenticity of 

what is now called the "Slavonic Josephus'. All things considered, we were inclined to 

regard it as more or less genuine a transcription from a copy or copies of Josephus which 

survived the destruction of Christian documents by Diocletian and eluded the editorial zeal 

of the reinstated orthodoxy under Constantine. There were a number of cogent reasons 

for our conclusion. If the Slavonic Josephus was a forgery, for example, whose interests 

would it have served? Its description of Jesus as a king would hardly have been 

acceptable to a thirteenth-century Jewish audience. And its depiction of Jesus as human 

would hardly have pleased thirteenth-century Christendom. What is more, Origen, a 

Church father writing in the early third century, alludes to a version of Josephus which 

denies Jesus's Messiahship:'8 This version which may once have been the original, 

authentic and "standard' version could well have provided the text for the Slavonic 


The Gnostic Writings 

The revolt of A.D. 66-74 was followed by a second major insurrection 

some sixty years later, between 132 and 135. As a result of this new 

disturbance all Jews were officially expelled from Jerusalem, which 

became a Roman city. But even as early as the first revolt history had 

begun to draw a veil over events in the Holy Land, and there are 

virtually no records for another two centuries. Indeed the period is 

not dissimilar to Europe at various points during the so-called "Dark 

Ages'. Nevertheless it is known that numerous Jews remained in the 

country, though outside Jerusalem. So, too, did a number of 


Christians. And there was even one sect of Jews, called the 

Ebionites, who, while adhering generally to their faith, at the same time revered Jesus as 

a prophet -albeit a mortal one. 

Nevertheless the real spirit of both Judaism and Christianity moved 

away from the Holy Land. The majority of Palestine's Jewish population 

dispersed in a diaspora like that which had occurred some seven hundred 

years before, when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians. And 

Christianity, in a similar fashion, began to migrate across the globe 

to Asia Minor, to Greece, to 

Rome, to Gaul, to Britain, to North Africa. Not surprisingly 

conflicting accounts of what had happened in or around A.D. 33 began to 

arise all over the civilised world. And despite the efforts of Clement 

of Alexandria, 

Irenaeus and their ilk, these accounts officially labelled 'heresies' 

continued to flourish. Some of them undoubtedly derived from some sort 

of first-hand knowledge, preserved both by devout Jews and by groups 

like the 

Ebionites, Jewish converts to one or another form of Christianity. Other accounts were 

patently based on legend, on rumour, on an amalgamation of current beliefs such as 

Egyptian, Hellenistic and Mithraic mystery traditions. Whatever their specific sources, 

they caused much disquiet to the "adherents of the message', the coalescing orthodoxy 

which was endeavouring to consolidate its position. 

Information on the early "heresies' is meagre. Modern knowledge about 

them derives largely from the attacks of their opponents, which 

naturally makes for a distorted picture like the picture that might 

emerge of the French 

Resistance, for instance, from Gestapo documents. On the whole, 


Jesus seems to have been viewed by the early "heretics' in one of two ways. 

For some he was a fully fledged god, with few, if any, human attributes. 

For others he was a mortal prophet, not essentially different from, say, the Buddha or, half 

a millennium later, Muhammad. 

Among the most important of the early heresiarchs was Valentinus, a native of Alexandria 

who spent the latter part of his life (A.D. 136-65) in Rome. 

In his time Valentinus was extremely influential, numbering such men 


Ptolemy among his following. Claiming to possess a body of "secret 

teachings' of Jesus, he refused to submit to Roman authority, asserting 


that personal gnosis took precedence over any external hierarchy. Predictably enough 

Valentinus and his adherents were among the most be laboured targets of Irenaeus's 


Another such target was Marcion, a wealthy shipping magnate and bishop who arrived in 

Rome around 140 and was excommunicated four years later. Marcion posited a radical 

distinction between "law' and "love', which he associated with the Old and New 

Testaments respectively; certain of these Marcionite ideas surfaced a full thousand years 

later in such works as the Perlesvaus. 

Marcion was the first writer to compile a canonical list of Biblical books which, in his case, 

excluded the whole of the Old Testment. It was in direct response to Marcion that 

Irenaeus compiled his canonical list, which provided the basis for the Bible as we know it 


The third major heresiarch of the period and in many ways the most 

intriguing was Basilides, an Alexandrian scholar writing between nD.120 

and 130. Basilides was conversant with both Hebrew scriptures and 


Gospels. He was also steeped in Egyptian and Hellenistic thought. He 

is supposed to have written no less than twenty-four commentaries on 


Gospels. According to Irenaeus, he promulgated a most heinous heresy indeed. 

Basilides claimed that the Crucifixion was a fraud, that Jesus did not die on the cross, and 

that a substitute Simon of Cyrene took his place instead." Such an assertion would seem 

to be bizarre. And yet it has proved to be extraordinarily persistent and tenacious. As late 

as the seventh century-the Koran maintained precisely the same argument that a 

substitute, traditionally Simon of Cyrene, took Jesus's place on the cross. z And the same 

argument was upheld by the priest from whom we received the mysterious letter 

discussed in Chapter 1 the letter that alluded to "incontrovertible proof of a substitution. 

If there was any one region where the early heresies most entrenched 

themselves, it was Egypt, and more specifically Alexandria most learned 

and cosmopolitan city in the world at the time, the second largest city 

in the Roman Empire and a repository for a bewildering variety of 

faiths, teachings and traditions. In the wake of the two revolts in 


Judaea, Egypt proved the most accessible haven for both Jewish and 

Christian refugees, vast numbers of whom thronged to 

Alexandria. It was thus not surprising that Egypt yielded the most convincing evidence to 

support our hypothesis. This was contained in the so-called "Gnostic Gospels', or, more 

accurately, the Nag Hammadi Scrolls. 

In December 1945 an Egyptian peasant, digging for soft and fertile soil near the village of 

Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt, exhumed a red earthenware jar. It proved to contain 

thirteen codices papyrous books or scrolls -bound in leather. Unaware of the magnitude 

of the discovery, the peasant and his family used some of the codices to stoke their fire. 

Eventually, however, the remainder attracted the attention of experts; and one of them, 

smuggled out of Egypt, was offered for sale on the black market. Part of this codex, which 

was purchased by the C. G. Jung Foundation, proved to contain the now famous Gospel 

of Thomas. 

In the meantime the Egyptian government nationalised the remainder of 


Nag Hammadi collection in 1952. Only in 1961, however, was an international team of 

experts assembled to copy and translate the entire corpus of material. In 1972 the first 

volume of the photographic edition appeared. 

And in 1977 the entire collection of scrolls appeared in English translation for the first time. 

The Nag Hammadi Scrolls are a collection of Biblical texts, 


Gnostic in character, which date, it would appear, from the late fourth 

or early fifth century -from about A.D. 400. The scrolls are copies, 

and the originals from which they were transcribed date from much 

earlier. Certain of them the Gospel of Thomas, for example, the Gospel 

of Truth and the 

Gospel of the Egyptians are mentioned by the very earliest of Church 

fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus and Origen. Modern 

scholars have established that some if not most of the texts in the 

scrolls date from no later than A.D. 150. And at least one of them may 

include material that is even older than the four standard Gospels of 

the New 

Testament, z' 

Taken as a whole, the Nag Hammadi collection constitutes an invaluable 

repository of early Christian documents some of which can claim an 

authority equal to that of the Gospels. What is more, certain of these 


documents enjoy a claim to a unique veracity of their own. In the 

first place they escaped the censorship and revision of later Roman orthodoxy. In the 

second place they were originally composed for an Egyptian, not a Roman, audience, and 

are not therefore distorted or slanted to a Romanised ear. 

Finally they may well rest on first-hand and/or eyewitness sources oral accounts by Jews 

fleeing the Holy Land, for instance, perhaps even personal acquaintances or associates of 

Jesus, who could tell their story with an historical fidelity the Gospels could not afford to 


Not surprisingly the Nag Hammadi Scrolls contain a good many passages 

that are inimical to orthodoxy and the "adherents of the message'. In 

one undated codex, for example, the Second Treatise of the Great Seth, 

-escaping his death on the cross by dint of an ingenious substitution. 

In the following extract, Jesus speaks in the first person: 

I did not succumb to them as they had planned .. . And I did not die in 

reality but in appearance, lest I be put to shame by them .. . For my 

death which they think happened [happened] to them in their error and 

blindness, since they nailed their man unto their death .. . It was 

another, their father, who drank the gall and the vinegar; it was not 

I. They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the CfOSS On 

his shoulder. 

It was another upon whom they placed the crown of thorns ... And I was 

laughing at their ignorance .22 

With convincing consistency, certain other works in the Nag Hammadi 

collection bear witness to a bitter and ongoing feud between Peter and 


Magdalene a feud that would seem to reflect a schism between the 

"adherents of the message' and the adherents to the bloodline. Thus, 

in the 

Gospel of Mary, Peter addresses the Magdalene as follows: "Sister, we 

know that the Saviour loved you more than the rest of women. Tell us 

the words of the Saviour which you remember which you know but we do 

not. 123 Later 

Peter demands indignantly of the other disciples: "Did he really speak 

privately with a woman and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and 


all listen to her? Did he prefer her to us?"Z4 And later still, one 

of the disciples replies to 

Peter: "Surely the Saviour knows her very well. That is why he loved her more than us." 

In the Gospel of Philip the reasons for this feud would appear to be obvious enough. 

There i's, for example, a recurring emphasis on the image of the bridal chamber. 

According to the Gospel of Philip, "the Lord did everything in a mystery, a baptism and a 

chrism and a eucharist and a redemption and a bridal chamber. 1213 Granted, the bridal 

chamber, at first glance, might well seem to be symbolic or allegorical. But the Gospel of 

Philip is more explicit: "There were three who always walked with the Lord; Mary his 

mother and her sister and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. 127 

According to one scholar, the word "companion' is to be translated as 'spouse. 128 There 

are certainly grounds for doing so, for the Gospel of Philip becomes more explicit still: 

And the companion of the Saviour is Mary Magdalene. But Christ loved 

her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on her 

mouth. The rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed 

disapproval. They said to him, "Why do you love her more than all of 

us?" The Saviour answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you 

like her ?1 29 

The Gospel of Philip elaborates on the matter: "Fear not the flesh nor 

love it. If you fear it, it will gain mastery over you. If you love 

it, it will swallow and paralyse you. "3 At another point, this 

elaboration is translated into concrete terms: "Great is the mystery of 

marriage! For without it the world would not have existed. Now the 

existence of the world depends on man, and the existence of man on 

marriage."" And towards the end of the Gospel of Philip, there is the 

following statement: "There is the Son of man and there is the son of 

the Son of man. The Lord is the Son of man, and the son of the Son of 


man is he who is created through the Son of man. 14 The Grail 


On the basis of the Nag Hammadi Scrolls alone, the possibility of a 

bloodline descended directly from Jesus gained considerable 

plausibility for us. Certain of the socalled "Gnostic Gospels' enjoyed 

as great a claim to veracity as the books of the New 

Testament. As a result the things to which they explicitly or 

implicitly bore witness a substitute on the cross, a continuing dispute 

between Peter and the Magdalene, a marriage between the 

Magdalene and Jesus, the birth of a "son of the Son of Man' could not be dismissed out of 

hand, however controversial they might be. We were dealing with history, not theology. 

And history, in Jesus's time, was no less complex, mufti-faceted and oriented towards 

practicalities than it is today. 

The feud, in, the Nag Hammadi Scrolls, between Peter and the 

Magdalene apparently testified to precisely the conflict we had 

hypothesi sed the conflict between the "adherents of the message' and 

the adherents to the bloodline. But it was the former who eventually 

emerged triumphant to shape the course of 

Western civilisation. Given their increasing monopoly of learning, 

communication and documentation, there remained little evidence to 

suggest that Jesus's family ever existed. And there was still less to 

establish a link between that family and the 

Merovingian dynasty. 

Not that the "adherents of the message' had things entirely their own way. If the first two 

centuries of Christian history were plagued by irrepressible heresies, the centuries that 

followed were even more so. While orthodoxy consolidated itself theologically under 

Irenaeus, politically under Constantine the heresies continued to proliferate on a hitherto 

unprecedented scale. 


However much they differed in theological details, most of the major 
heresies shared certain crucial factors. Most of them were essentially Gnostic or Gnostic- 
influenced, repudiating the hierarchical structure of Rome and extolling the supremacy of 
personal illumination over blind faith. Most of them were also, in one sense or another, 
dualist, regarding good and evil less as mundane ethical problems than as issues of 
ultimately cosmic import. Finally most of them concurred in regarding Jesus as mortal, 
born by a natural process of conception a prophet, divinely inspired perhaps but not 
intrinsically divine, who died definitively on the cross or who never died on the cross at all. 
In their emphasis on Jesus's humanity, many of the heresies referred 
back to the august authority of 

Saint Paul, who had spoken of "Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of 
David according to the flesh' (Romans 1 :3). 

Perhaps the most famous and profoundly radical of the heresies was 
Manichaeanism essentially a fusion of Gnostic Christianity with skeins of earlier 
Zoroastrian and Mithraic traditions. It was founded by an individual named Mani, who was 
born near Baghdad in A.D. 214 to a family related to the Persian royal house. As a youth 
Mani was introduced by his father into an unspecified mystical sect probably Gnostic 
which emphasised asceticism and celibacy, practised baptism and wore white robes. 
Around A.D. 240 Mani commenced to propagate his own teachings and, 

Jesus, was renowned for his spiritual healing and exorcisms. His 
followers proclaimed him "the new Jesus' and even credited him with a 
virgin birth a prerequisite for deities at the time. He was also known 
as "Saviour', 

"Apostle', "Illuminator', "Lord', "Raiser of the Dead', "Pilot' and 
"Helmsman'. The last two designations are especially suggestive, for 
they are interchangeable with "Nautonnier', the official title assumed 
by the 

Grand Master of the Prieure de Sion. 

According to later Arab historians Mani produced many books in which he claimed to 
reveal secrets Jesus had mentioned only obscurely and obliquely. 
He regarded Zarathustra, Buddha and Jesus as his forerunners and 
declared that he, like them, had received essentially the same 
enlightenment from the same source. His teachings consisted of a 
Gnostic dualism wedded to an imposing and elaborate cosmological 



darkness; and the most important battlefield for these two opposed 

principles was the human soul. Like the later Cathars, Mani espoused 

the doctrine of reincarnation. Like the 

Cathars, too, he insisted on an initiate class, an "illuminated elect'. He referred to Jesus 

as the "Son of the Widow' - a phrase subsequently appropriated by Freemasonry. At the 

same time he declared Jesus to be mortal or, if divine at all, divine only in a symbolic or 

metaphorical sense, by virtue of enlightenment. And Mani, like Basilides, maintained that 

Jesus did not die on the cross, but was replaced by a substitute." 

In A.D. 276, by order of the king, Mani was imprisoned, flayed to 

death, skinned and decapitated; and, perhaps to preclude a 

resurrection, his mutilated body was put on public display. His 

teachings, however, only gained impetus from his martyrdom; and among 

his later adherents, at least for a time, was Saint Augustine. With 

extraordinary rapidity, Manichaeanism spread throughout the Christian 

world. Despite ferocious endeavours to suppress it, it managed to 

survive, to influence later thinkers and to persist up, to the present 

day. In Spain and in the south of France 

Manichaean schools' were particularly active. By the time of the 

Crusades these schools had forged links with other Manichaean sects 

from Italy and 

Bulgaria. It now appears unlikely that the Cathars were an offshoot of 


Bulgarian Bogomils. On the contrary, the most recent research suggests 

that the Cathars arose from Manichaean schools long established in 

France. In any case the Albigensian Crusade was essentially a crusade 


Manichaeanism; and despite the most assiduous efforts of Rome, the 


"Manichaean' has survived to become an accepted part of our language and vocabulary. 

In addition to Manichaeanism, of course, there were numerous other 

heresies. Of them all, it was the heresy of Arius which posed the most 

dangerous threat to orthodox Christian doctrine during the first 

thousand years of its history. Arius was a presbyter in Alexandria 

around 318, and died in 335. His dispute with orthodoxy was quite 

simple and rested on a single premise that Jesus was wholly mortal, was 

in no sense divine, and in no sense anything other than an inspired 


teacher. By positing a single omnipotent and supreme God a God who 

did not incarnate in the flesh, and did not suffer humiliation and 

death at the hands of his creation Arius effectively embedded 

Christianity in an essentially Judaic framework. And he may well, as a 

resident of Alexandria, have been influenced by Judaic teachings there 

the teachings of the 

Ebionites, for example. At the same time the supreme God of Arianism enjoyed immense 

appeal in the West. As Christianity came to acquire increasingly secular power, such a 

God became increasingly attractive. 

Kings and potentates could identify with such a God more readily than they could with a 

meek, passive deity who submitted without resistance to martyrdom and eschewed 

contact with the world. 

Although Arianism was condemned at the Council of Nicea in 325, 

Constantine had always been sympathetic towards it, and became more so 

at the end of his life. On his death, his son and successor, 

Constantius, became unabashedly Arian; and under his auspices councils 

were convened which drove orthodox Church leaders into exile. By 360 

Arianism had all but displaced Roman Christianity. And though it was 

officially condemned again in 381 , it continued to thrive and gain 

adherents. When the Merovingians rose to power during the fifth 

century, virtually every bishopric in 

Christendom was either Arian or vacant. 

Among the most fervent devotees of Arianism were the Goths, who had 

been converted to it from paganism during the fourth century. The 

Suevi, the 

Lombards, the Alans, the Vandals, the Burgundians and the Ostrogoths 

were all Arian. So were the Visigoths, who, when they sacked Rome in 

480, spared 

Christian churches. If the early Merovingians, prior to Clovis, were at all receptive to 

Christianity, it would have been the Arian Christianity of their immediate neighbours, the 

Visigoths and Burgundians. 

Under Visigoth auspices, Arianism became the dominant form of Christianity in Spain, the 

Pyrenees and what is now southern France. 

If Jesus's family did indeed find refuge in Gaul, their overlords, by 

the fifth century, would have been the Arian Visigoths. Under the 

Arian regime, the family is not likely to have been persecuted. It 


would probably have been highly esteemed and might well have 

intermarried with Visigoth nobility before its subsequent intermarriage with the Franks to 

produce the Merovingians. 

And with Visigoth patronage and protection, it would have been secure against all threats 

from Rome. It is thus not particularly surprising that unmistakably Semitic names Bera, for 

instance occur among Visigoth aristocracy and royalty. Dagobert II married a Visigoth 

princess whose father was named Bera. The name Bera recurs repeatedly in the Visigoth 

Merovingian family tree descended from Dagobert II and Sigisbert IV. 

The Roman Church is said to have declared that Dagobert's son had converted to 

Arianism,z and it would not be very extraordinary if he had done so. 

Despite the pact between the Church and Clovis, the Merovingians had always been 

sympathetic to Arianism. One of Clovis's grandsons, Chilperic, made no secret of his 

Arian proclivities. 

If Arianism was not inimical to Judaism, neither was it to Islam, which 

rose so meteorically in the seventh century. The Arian view of Jesus 

was quite in accord with that of the Koran. In the Koran Jesus is 

mentioned no less than thirty-five times, under a number of impressive 

appellations including "Messenger of God' and "Messiah'. At no point, 

however, is he regarded as anything other than a mortal prophet, a 

forerunner of Muhammad and a spokesman for a single supreme God. And 

like Basilides and Mani, the 

Koran maintains that Jesus did not die on the cross, "they did not kill him, nor did they 

crucify him, but they thought they did. "I The Koran itself does not elaborate on this 

ambiguous statement, but Islamic commentators do. According to most of them, there 

was a substitute generally, though not always, supposed to have been Simon of Cyrene. 

Certain Muslim writers speak of Jesus hiding in a niche of a wall and watching the 

Crucifixion of a surrogate which concurs with the fragment already quoted from the Nag 

Hammadi Scrolls. 

Judaism and the Merovingians 

It is worth noting the tenacity, even in the face of the most vigorous 


persecution, with which most of the heresies and especially Arianism 

insisted on Jesus's mortality and humanity. But we found no indication that any of them 

necessarily possessed any first-hand knowledge of the premise to which they so 

persistently adhered. Still less was there any evidence, apart from the Nag Hammadi 

Scrolls, to suggest their awareness of a possible bloodline. It was possible, of course, that 

certain documents did exist documents akin to the Nag Hammadi Scrolls, perhaps even 

genealogies and archives. The sheer virulence of Roman persecution might well suggest 

a fear of such evidence and a desire to ensure that it would never see the light. But if that 

was the case, Rome would appear to have succeeded. 

The heresies, then, provided us with no decisive confirmation of a connection between 

Jesus's family and the Merovingians, who appeared on the world stage some four 

centuries later. For such confirmation we were obliged to look elsewhere back to the 

Merovingians themselves. At first glance the evidence, such as it was, seemed to be 

meagre. We had already considered the legendary birth of Merovee, for example child of 

two fathers, one of whom was a mysterious aquatic creature from across the sea -and 

guessed that this curious fable might have been intended simultaneously to reflect and 

conceal a dynastic alliance or intermarriage. 

But, while the fish symbolism was suggestive, it was hardly conclusive. 

Similarly the subsequent pact between Clovis and the Roman Church made considerably 

more sense in the light of our scenario; but the pact itself did not constitute concrete 

evidence. And while the Merovingian royal blood was credited with a sacred, miraculous 

and divine nature, it was not explicitly stated anywhere that this blood was in fact Jesus's. 

In the absence of any decisive or conclusive testimony, we had to proceed cautiously. We 

had to evaluate fragments of circumstantial evidence, and try to assemble these 

fragments into a coherent picture. 

And we had first to determine whether there were any uniquely Judaic 

influences on the 


Certainly the Merovingian kings do not seem to have been anti-Semitic. 

On the contrary they seem to have been not merely tolerant, but 

downright sympathetic to the Jews in their domains and this despite the 


assiduous protests of the Roman Church. Mixed marriages were a 
frequent occurrence. 

Many Jews, especially in the south, possessed large landed estates. Many of them 
owned Christian slaves and servants. And many of them acted as magistrates and high- 
ranking administrators for their Merovingian lords. On the whole the Merovingian attitude 
towards Judaism seems to have been without parallel in Western history prior to the 
Lutheran Reformation. 

The Merovingians themselves believed their miraculous power to be vested, in large part, 
in their hair, which they were forbidden to cut. 
Their position on this matter was identical to that of the Nazorites in 
the Old 

Testament, of whom Samson was a member. There is much evidence to suggest that 
Jesus was also a Nazorite. According to both early Church writers and modern scholars 
his brother, Saint James, indisputably was. 

In the Merovingian royal house, and in the families connected with it, 
there were a surprising number of specifically Judaic names. Thus, in 
577, a brother of King Clotaire II was named Samson. Subsequently one 
Miron 'le 

Levite' was count of Besalou and bishop of Gerona. One count of Roussillon was named 
Solomon, and another Solomon became king of Brittany. There was an Abbot Elisachar - 
a variant of "Eleazar' and "Lazarus'. And the very name "Merovee' would seem to be of 
Middle Eastern derivation." 

Judaic names became increasingly prominent through dynastic marriages 
between the Merovingians and the Visigoths. Such names figure in 
Visigoth nobility and royalty; and it is possible that many so-called 
"Visigoth' families were in fact Judaic. This possibility gains 
further credence from the fact that chroniclers would frequently use 
the words "Goth' and "Jew' interchangeably. The south of France and 
the Spanish marches the region known as Septimania in Merovingian and 
Carolingian times contained an extremely large Jewish population. This 
region was also known as "Gothic' or "Gothic', and its Jewish 
inhabitants were thus often called "Goths' an error which may, on 
occasion, have been deliberate. By dint of this error, 

Jews could not be identified as such, save perhaps by specific family names. Thus 
Dagobert's father-inlaw was named Bera, a Semitic name. 


Bera's sister was married to a member of a family named Levy.S 

Granted, names and a mystical attitude towards one's hair were not 

necessarily a solid basis on which to establish a connection between 


Merovingians and Judaism. But there was another fragment of evidence 

which was somewhat more persuasive. The Merovingians were the royal 

dynasty of the Franks a Teutonic tribe which adhered to Teutonic tribal 

law. In the late fifth century this law, codified and couched in a 

Roman framework, became known as Salic Law. In its origins, however, 

Salic Law was ultimately Teutonic tribal law and predated the advent of 


Christianity in Western Europe. During the centuries that followed it 

continued to stand in opposition to the ecclesiastical law promulgated 


Rome. Throughout the Middle Ages it was the official secular law of 


Holy Roman Empire. As late as the Lutheran Reformation the German peasantry and 

knighthood included, in their grievances against the Church, the latter's disregard for 

traditional Salic law. 

There is one entire section of the Salic Law Title 45, "De Migrantibus' 

which has consistently puzzled scholars and commentators, and been the 

source of incessant legal debate. It is a complicated section of 

stipulations and clauses pertaining to circumstances whereby itinerants 

may establish residence and be accorded citizenship. What is curious 

about it is that it is not Teutonic in origin, and writers have been 

driven to postulate bizarre hypotheses to account for its inclusion in 

the Salic 

Code. Only recently, however, it has been discovered that this section 

of the Salic Code derives directly from Judaic Laws More specifically, 

it can be traced back to a section in the Talmud. It can thus be said 

that Salic 

Law, at least in part, issues directly from traditional Judaic law. 

And this in turn suggests that the Merovingians under whose auspices 


Law was codified were not only versed in Judaic law, but had access 


Judaic texts. 

The Principality in Septimania 

Such fragments were provocative, but they provided only tenuous support 

for our hypothesis that a bloodline descended from Jesus existed in the 


south of France, that this bloodline intermarried with the 

Merovingians and that the Merovingians, in consequence, were partly Judaic. But while 

the Merovingian epoch failed to provide us with any conclusive evidence for our 

hypothesis, the epoch which immediately followed it did. By means of this "retroactive 

evidence' our hypothesis suddenly became tenable. 

We had already explored the possibility of the Merovingian bloodline 

surviving after being deposed from its thrones by the Carolingians. In 

the process we had encountered an autonomous principality that existed 

in the south of France for a century and a half a principality whose 

most famous ruler was Guillem de Gellone. Guillem was one of the most 

revered heroes of his age. He was also the protagonist of the 

Willehalm by Wolfram von 

Eschenbach, and is said to have been associated with the Grail family. It was in Guillem 

and his background that we found some of our most surprising and exciting evidence. 

At the apex of his power Guillem de Gellone included among his domains north-eastern 

Spain, the Pyrenees and the region of southern France known as Septimania. This area 

had long contained a large Jewish population. 

During the sixth and seventh centuries this population had enjoyed 

extremely cordial relations with its Visigoth overlords, who espoused 


Christianity so much so, in fact, that mixed marriages were common, and the words "Goth' 

and "Jew' were often used interchangeably. 

By 71 1 , however, the situation of the Jews in Septimania and 


Spain had sadly deteriorated. By that time Dagobert II had been 

assassinated and his lineage driven into hiding in the Razes the region 

including and surrounding Rennes-leChateau. And while collateral 

branches of the Merovingian bloodline still nominally occupied the 

throne to the north, the only real power resided in the hands of the 

so-called Mayors of the Palace the Carolingian usurpers who, with the 

sanction and support of 

Rome, set about establishing their own dynasty. By that time, too, 


Visigoths had themselves converted to Roman Christianity and begun to persecute the 

Jews in their domains. Thus, when Visigoth Spain was overrun by the Moors in 71 1 , the 

Jews eagerly welcomed the invaders. 


Under Muslim rule the Jews of Spain enjoyed a thriving existence. The 

Moors were gracious to them, often placing them in administrative charge of captured 

cities like Cordoba, Granada and Toledo. 

Jewish commerce and trade were encouraged and attained a new prosperity. 

Judaic thought coexisted, side by side, with that of Islam, and the two cross-fertilised each 

other. And many towns -including Cordoba, the Moorish capital of Spain were 

predominantly Jewish in population. 

At the beginning of the eighth century the Moors crossed the Pyrenees 


Septimania; and from 720 until 759 while Dagobert's grandson and 

great-grandson continued their clandestine existence in the Razes 

-Septimania was in Islamic hands. Septimania became an autonomous Moorish 
principality, with its own capital at Narbonne and owing only nominal allegiance 

to the emir of Cordoba. And from Narbonne the Moors of 

Septimania began to strike northwards, capturing cities as deep into 

Frankish territory as Lyons. 

The Moorish advance was checked by Charles Martel, Mayor of the Palace 

and grandfather of Charlemagne. By 738 Charles had driven the Moors 

Narbonne, to which he then laid siege. Narbonne, however defended by 


Moors and Jews proved impregnable, and Charles vented his frustration by devastating 

the surrounding countryside. 

By 752 Charles's son, Pepin, had formed alliances with local aristocrats, thereby bringing 

Septimania fully under his control. Narbonne, however, continued to resist, withstanding a 

seven-year-long siege by Pepin's forces. The city was a painful thorn in Pepin's side, at a 

time when it was most urgent for him to consolidate his position. 

He and his successors were acutely sensitive to charges of having 

usurped the Merovingian throne. To establish a claim to legitimacy, he 

forged dynastic alliances with surviving families of the Merovingian 

royal blood. To further validate his status he arranged for his 

coronation to be distinguished by the Biblical rite of anointing 

-whereby the Church assumed the prerogative of creating kings. But there was 

another aspect to the ritual of anointing as well. 

According to scholars, anointing was a deliberate attempt to suggest 
that the Frankish monarchy was a replica, if not actually a 
continuation, of the 


Judaic monarchy in the Old Testament. This, in itself, is extremely 

interesting. For why would Pepin the usurper want to legitimi se himself by means of a 

Biblical prototype? Unless the dynasty he deposed the Merovingian dynasty had legitimi 

sed itself by precisely the same means. 

In any case Pepin was confronted by two problems the tenacious 

resistance of Narbonne, and the matter of establishing his own 

legitimate claim to the throne by referring to Biblical precedent. As 

Professor Arthur Zuckerman of 

Columbia University has demonstrated, he resolved both problems by a pact in 759 with 

Narbonne's Jewish population. According to this pact, Pepin would receive Jewish 

endorsement for his claim to a Biblical succession. He would also receive Jewish aid 

against the Moors. In return he would grant the Jews of Septimania a principality, and a 

king, of their own." 

In 759 the Jewish population of Narbonne turned suddenly upon the 


Muslim defenders, slaughtered them and opened the gates of the fortress 

to the besieging Franks. Shortly thereafter, the Jews acknowledged 

Pepin as their nominal overlord and validated his claim to a legitimate 

Biblical succession. Pepin, in the meantime, kept his part of the 

bargain. In 768 a principality was created in Septimania - a Jewish 

principality which paid nominal allegiance to Pepin but was essentially 

independent. A ruler was officially installed as king of the Jews. In 

the romances he is called 

Aymery. According to existing records, however, he seems, on being 

received into the, ranks of Frankish nobility, to have taken the name 

Theodoric or 

Thierry. Theodoric, or Thierry, was the father of Guillem de Gellone. 

And he was recognised by both Pepin and the caliph of Baghdad, as "the 

seed of the royal house of David. "I 

As we had already discovered, modern scholars were uncertain about 

Theodoric's origins and background. According to most researchers he 

was of 

Merovingian descent.9 According to Arthur Zuckerman he is said to have 

been a native of Baghdad an "exffarch', descended from Jews who had 

lived in 

Babylon since the Babylonian Captivity. It is also possible, however, 

that the "exilarch' from Baghdad was not Theodoric. It is possible 

that the "exilarch' came from Baghdad to consecrate Theodoric, and 


subsequent records confused the two. Professor Zuckerman mentions a 

curious assertion that the "Western exilarchs' were of "purer blood' than those in the East." 

Who were the "Western exilarchs', if not the Merovingians? Why would an individual of 

Merovingian descent be acknowledged as king of the Jews, ruler of a Jewish principality 

and "seed of the royal house of David', unless the Merovingians were indeed partly 

Judaic? Following the Church's collusion in Dagobert's assassination and its betrayal of 

the pact ratified with Clovis, the surviving Merovingians may well have repudiated all 

allegiance to Rome and returned to what was their former faith. Their ties to that faith 

would, in any case, have been strengthened by Dagobert's marriage to the daughter of an 

ostensibly "Visigoth' prince with the patently Semitic name of Bera. 

Theodoric, or Thierry, further consolidated his position, and Pepin's 

as well, by an expeditious marriage to the latter's sister Alda, the 

aunt of 

Charlemagne. In the years that followed the Jewish kingdom of Septimania enjoyed a 

prosperous existence. It was richly endowed with estates held in freehold from the 

Carolingian monarchs. It was even granted sizeable tracts of Church land despite the 

vigorous protests of Pope Stephen III and his successors. 

The son of Theodoric, king of the Jews of Septimania, was Guillem de 

Gellone, whose titles included count of Barcelona, of Toulouse, of 

Auvergne and of Razes. Like his father Guillem was not only 

Merovingian, but also a Jew of royal blood. Royal blood acknowledged 

by the Carolingians, by the caliph and, albeit grudgingly, by the pope 

to be that of the House of 


Despite subsequent attempts to conceal it, modern scholarship and 

research have proved Guillem's Judaism beyond dispute. Even in the 

romances where he figures as Guillaume, Prince of Orange he is fluent 

in both Hebrew and 

Arabic. The device on his shield is the same as that of the Eastern "exilarchs' the Lion of 

Judah, the tribe to which the house of David, and subsequently Jesus, belonged. He is 

nicknamed "Hook-Nose'. And even amidst his campaigns, he takes pains to observe the 

Sabbath and the Judaic Feast of the Tabernacles. As Arthur Zuckerman remarks: 


The chronicler who wrote the original report of the siege and fall 


Barcelona recorded events according to the Jewish calendar .. . [The] commander of the 

expedition, Duke William of Narbonne and Toulouse conducted the action with strict 

observance of Jewish Sabbaths and holy Days. In all of this, he enjoyed the full 

understanding and co-operation of King Louis." 

Guillem de Gellone became one of the so-called "Peers of Charlemagne' 

an authentic historical hero who, in the popular mind and tradition, 

ranked with such legendary figures as Roland and Olivier. When 

Charlemagne's son, 

Louis, was invested as emperor, it was Guillem who placed the crown on his head. Louis 

is reported to have said. "Lord William .. . it is your lineage that has raised up mine." It is 

an extraordinary statement, given that it is addressed to a man whose lineage so far as 

later historians are concerned would seem to be utterly obscure. 

At the same time Guillem was more than a warrior. Shortly before 792 

he established an academy at Gellone, importing scholars and creating a 

renowned library; and Gellone soon became an esteemed centre of Judaic 

studies. It is from just such an academy that the "heathen' Flegetanis 

might have issued the Hebrew scholar descended from Solomon, who, 

according to Wolfram, confided the secret of the Holy Grail to Kyot 



In 806 Guillem withdrew from active life, secluding himself in his academy. 

Here, around 812, he died, and the academy was later converted into a monastery, the 

now famous Saint-Guilhelm-le-Deseri."3 Even before Guillem's death, however, Gellone 

had become one of the first known seats in Europe for the cult of the Magdalene 14 _ 

which, significantly enough, flourished there concurrently with the Judaic academy. 

Jesus was of the Tribe of Judah and the royal house of David. The 

Magdalene is said to have carried the Grail -the Sangraal or "royal 

blood' into 

France. And in the eighth century there was, in the south of France, a 

potentate of the Tribe of Judah and the royal house of David, who was 

acknowledged as king of the Jews. He was not only a practising Jew, 


however. He was also a Map 10 The Jewish Princedom 



~ %///- 








//// .-ARBONNE_..-_ 

/ ~ RMEUAE-ri~l /PAMPLONA(Rennes-le-(:h5ttau) 


a .-.._ 




Merovingian. And through Wolfram von Eschenbach's poem, he and his 

family are associated with the Holy Grail. 

The Seed of David 

In later centuries assiduous attempts seem to have been made to expunge 

from the records all trace of the Jewish Kingdom of Septimania. The 

frequent confusion of "Goths' and "Jews' seems indicative of this 

censorship. But the censorship could not hope to be entirely 

successful. As late as 1 143 Peter the Venerable of Cluny, in an 

address to Louis VII of France, condemned the 

Jews of Narbonne, who claimed to have a king residing among them. In 

Cambridge monk, one Theobald, speaks of 'the chief Princes and Rabbis 

of the 

Jews who dwell in Spain land] assemble together at Narbonne where the 

royal seed resides." And in 1 165-6 Benjamin of Tudela, a famous 

traveller and chronicler, reports that in Narbonne there are "sages, 

magnates and princes at the head of whom is ... a descendant of the 

House of David as stated in his family tree. '16 

But any seed of David residing in Narbonne by the twelfth century was 

of less consequence than certain other seed living elsewhere. Family 

trees bifurcate, spread, subdivide and produce veritable forests. If 

certain descendants of Theodoric and Guillem de Gellone remained in 

attained more august domains. By the twelfth century these domains 

included the most illustrious in Christendom Lorraine and the Frankish 

kingdom of 


In the ninth century the bloodline of Guillem de Gellone had culminated in the first dukes 

of Aquitaine. It also became aligned with the ducal house of Brittany. And in the tenth 

century a certain Hugues de Plantard -nicknamed "Long Nose' and a lineal descendant of 

both Dagobert and Guillem de Gellone became the father of Eustache, first Count of 


Eustache's grandson was Godfroi de Bouillon, Duke of Lorraine and 

conqueror of Jerusalem. And from Godfroi there issued a dynasty and 

a'royal tradition' which, by virtue of being founded on "the rock of 


Sion', was equal to those presiding over France, England and Germany. If the 

Merovingians were indeed descended from Jesus, then Godfroi scion of the Merovingian 

blood royal had, in his conquest of Jerusalem, regained his rightful heritage. 

Godfroi and the subsequent house of Lorraine were, of course, 


Catholic. To survive in a now Christianised world, they would have had 

to be. But their origins seem to have been known about in certain 

quarters at least. As late as the sixteenth century it is reported 

that Henri de 

Lorraine, Duke of Guise, on entering the town of Joinville in 

Champagne, was received by exuberant crowds. Among them, certain 

individuals are recorded to have chanted "Hosannah filio David' 

("Hosannah to the Son of 


It is not perhaps insignificant that this incident is recounted in a modern history of Lorraine, 

printed in 1966. The work contains a special introduction by Otto von Habsburg who 

today is titular Duke of Lorraine and King of Jerusalem." 

Fig. 3 The Coat of Arms of Fig 4 The Official Device of 

Rennes-leChateauthe Prieure de Sion 


25 Conclusion and Portents for the Future 

But if, for instance the statement that Christ rose from the dead is to 

be understood not literally but symbolically, then it is capable of 

various interpretations that do not conflict with knowledge and do not 

impair the meaning of the statement. The objection that understanding 

it symbolically puts an end to the Christian's hope of immortality is 

invalid, because long before the coming of Christianity mankind 

believed in a life after death and therefore had no need of the Easter 

event as a guarantee of immortality. The danger that a mythology 

understood too literally, and as taught by the 

Church will suddenly be repudiated lock, stock and barrel is today greater than ever. Is it 

not time that the Christian mythology, instead of being wiped out, was understood 

symbolically for once? 

Carl Jung, "The Undiscovered Self, Collected Works, vol. 10 (1956) p. 


We had not, in the beginning, set out to prove or disprove anything, least of all the 

conclusion to which we had been ineluctably led. We had certainly not set out to 

challenge some of the most basic tenets of Christianity. On the contrary, we had begun 

by investigating a specific mystery. We were looking for answers to certain perplexing 

questions, explanations for certain historical enigmas. In the process we more or less 

stumbled upon something rather greater than we had initially bargained for. We were led 

to a startling, controversial and seemingly preposterous conclusion. 

This conclusion compelled us to turn our attention to the life of Jesus and the origins of the 

religion founded upon him. When we did so, we wePe still not attempting to challenge 

Christianity. We were simply endeavouring to ascertain whether or not our conclusion 

was tenable. 


An exhaustive consideration of Biblical material convinced us that it 


Indeed we became convinced that our conclusion was not only tenable, but extremely 


We could not and still cannot prove the accuracy of our conclusion. It remains, to some 

extent at least, an hypothesis. But it is a plausible hypothesis, which makes coherent 

sense. It explains a great deal. And, so far as we are concerned, it constitutes a more 

historically likely account than any we have encountered of the events and personages 

which, two thousand years ago, imprinted themselves on Western consciousness and, in 

the centuries that followed, shaped our culture and civilisation. 

If we cannot prove our conclusion, however, we have received abundant 

evidence from both their documents and their representatives that the 

Prieure de Sion can. On the basis of their written hints and their personal conversation 

with us, we are prepared to believe that Sion does possess something something which 

does in some way amount to "incontrovertible proof of the hypothesis we have advanced. 

We do not know precisely what this proof might be. We can, however, make an educated 


If our hypothesis is correct, Jesus's wife and offspring (and he could have fathered a 

number of children between the ages of sixteen or seventeen and his supposed death), 

after fleeing the Holy Land, found a refuge in the south of France, and in a Jewish 

community there preserved their lineage. 

During the fifth century this lineage appears to have intermarried with the royal line of the 

Franks, thus engendering the Merovingian dynasty. In A.D. 496 the Church made a pact 

with this dynasty, pledging itself in perpetuity to the Merovingian bloodline presumably in 

the full knowledge of that bloodline's true identity. This would explain why Clovis was 

offered the status of Holy Roman Emperor, of "new Constantine', and why he was not 

created king, but only recognised as such. 

When the Church colluded in Dagobert's assassination, and the 

subsequent betrayal of the Merovingian bloodline, it rendered itself 

guilty of a crime that could neither be rationalised nor expunged. It 

could only be suppressed. It would have had to be suppressed for a 

disclosure of the 

Merovingians' real identity would hardly have strengthened Rome's 


position against her enemies. Despite all efforts to eradicate it, 

Jesus's bloodline or, at any rate, the Merovingian bloodline survived. 

It survived in part through the 

Carolingians, who clearly felt more guilty about their usurpation than 


Rome, and sought to legitimi se themselves by dynastic alliances with 

Merovingian princesses. But more significantly it survived through 

Dagobert's son, Sigisbert, whose descendants included Guillem de 

Gellone, ruler of the Jewish kingdom of Septimania, and eventually 

Godfroi de 

Bouillon. With Godfroi's capture of Jerusalem in 1099, Jesus's lineage would have 

regained its rightful heritage the heritage conferred upon it in Old Testament times. 

It is doubtful that Godfroi's true pedigree during the time of the 

Crusades was as secret as Rome would have wished it to be. Given the 

Church's hegemony, there could not, of course, have been an overt 

disclosure. But it is probable that rumours, traditions and legends 

were rife; and these would seem to have found their most prominent 

expression in such tales as that of 

Lohengrin, for example, Godfroi's mythical ancestor and, naturally, in the romances of the 

Holy Grail. 

If our hypothesis is correct, the Holy Grail would have been at least 

two things simultaneously. On the one hand it would have been Jesus's 

bloodline and descendants -the "Sang Raal', the "Real' or "Royal' blood 

of which the 

Templars, created by the Prieure de Sion, were appointed guardians. At 

the same time the Holy Grail would have been, quite literally, the 

receptacle, or vessel, which received and contained Jesus's blood. In 

other words it would have been the womb of the Magdalene and, by 

extension, the 

Magdalene herself. From this the cult of the Magdalene, as it was promulgated during the 

Middle Ages, would have arisen and been confused with the cult of the Virgin. It can be 

proved, for instance, that many of the famous "Black Virgins' or "Black Madonnas' early in 

the Christian era were shrines not to the Virgin but to the Magdalene and they depict a 

mother and child. It has also been argued that the Gothic cathedrals those majestic stone 

replicas of the womb dedicated to "Notre Dame' were also, as Le Serpent rouge states, 

shrines to Jesus's consort, rather than to his mother. 

The Holy Grail, then, would have symbolised both Jesus's bloodline and 



Magdalene, from whose womb that bloodline issued. But it may have 

been something else as well. In A.D. 70, during the great revolt in 

Judaea, Roman legions under Titus sacked the 

Temple of Jerusalem. The pillaged treasure of the Temple is said to 

have found its way eventually to the Pyrenees; and M. Plantard, in his 

conversation with us, stated that this treasure was in the hands of 


Prieure de Sion today. But the Temple of Jerusalem may have contained more than the 

treasure plundered by Titus's centurions. In ancient Judaism religion and politics were 

inseparable. The Messiah was to be a priest-king, whose authority encompassed spiritual 

and secular domains alike. It is thus likely, indeed probable, that the Temple housed 

official records pertaining to Israel's royal line the equivalents of the birth certificates, 

marriage licences and other relevant data concerning any modern royal or aristocratic 

family. If Jesus was indeed "King of the Jews' the Temple is almost certain to have 

contained copious information relating to him. It may even have contained his body or at 

least his tomb, once his body was removed from the temporary tomb of the Gospels. 

There is no indication that Titus, when he plundered the Temple in A.D. 70, obtained 

anything in any way relevant to Jesus. Such material, if it existed, might of course have 

been destroyed. On the other hand it might also have been hidden; and Titus's soldiers, 

interested only in booty, might not have bothered to look for it. For any priest in the 

Temple at the time, there would have been one obvious course of action. Seeing a 

phalanx of centurions advancing upon him, he would have left them the gold, the jewels, 

the material treasure they expected to find. And he would have hidden, perhaps beneath 

the Temple, the items that were of greater consequence items relating to the rightful king 

of Israel, the acknowledged Messiah and the royal family. 

By 1100 Jesus's descendants would have risen to prominence in Europe 

and, through Godfroi de Bouillon, in Palestine as well. They 

themselves would have known their pedigree and ancestry. But they 

might not have been able to prove their identity to the world at large; 

and such proof may well have been deemed necessary for their subsequent 

designs. If it were known that such proof existed, or even possibly 


existed, in the precincts of the Temple, no effort would have been 

spared to find it. This would explain the role of the Knights Templar who, under a cloak of 

secrecy, undertook excavations beneath the Temple, in the so-called Stables of Solomon. 

On the basis of the evidence we examined, there would seem to be little question that the 

Knights Templar were in fact sent to the Holy Land with the express purpose of finding or 

obtaining something. And on the basis of the evidence we examined, they would seem to 

have accomplished their mission. 

They would seem to have found what they were sent to find, and to have brought it back 

to Europe. What became of it then remains a mystery. 

But there seems little question that, under the auspices of Bertrand de 

Blanchefort, fourth Grand Master of the Order of the Temple, something 

was concealed in the vicinity of Rennes-leChateau for which a 

contingent of 

German miners was imported, under the most stringent security, to excavate and 

construct a hiding-place. One can only speculate about what might have been concealed 

there. It may have been Jesus's mummified body. It may have been the equivalent, so to 

speak, of Jesus's marriage licence, and/or the birth certificates of his children. It may 

have been something of comparably explosive import. Any or all of these items might 

have been referred to as the Holy Grail. Any or all of these items might, by accident or 

design, have passed to the Cathar heretics and comprised part of the mysterious treasure 

of Montsegur. 

Through Godfroi and Baudouin de Bouillon, a "royal tradition' is said 

to have existed which, because it was "founded on the Rock of Sion', 

equalled in status the foremost dynasties of Europe. If as the New 

Testament and later Freemasonry maintain the "Rock of Sion' is synonymous with Jesus, 

that assertion would suddenly make sense. Indeed it would be, if anything, an 


Once installed on the throne of the kingdom of Jerusalem, the Merovingian dynasty could 

sanction and even encourage hints about its true ancestry. 

This would explain why the Grail romances appeared precisely when and 

where they did, and why they were so explicitly associated with the 


Templar. In time, once its position in Palestine was consolidated, the 


"royal tradition' descended from Godfroi and Baudouin would probably 

have divulged its origins. The king of Jerusalem would then have taken 

precedence over all the monarchs of Europe, and the patriarch of 

Jerusalem would have supplanted the pope. Displacing Rome, Jerusalem 

would then have become the true capital of Christendom, and perhaps of 

much more than Christendom. For if Jesus were acknowledged as a mortal 

prophet, as a priest-king and legitimate ruler of the line of David, he 

might well have become acceptable to both Muslims and Jews. As king of 

Jerusalem, his lineal descendant would then have been in a position to 

implement one of the primary tenets of Templar policy the 

reconciliation of Christianity with 

Judaism and Islam. 

Historical circumstances, of course, never allowed matters to reach this point. The 

Frankish kingdom of Jerusalem never consolidated its position. 

Beleaguered on every side by Muslim armies, unstable in its own 

government and administration, it never attained the strength and 

internal security it needed to survive still less to assert its 

supremacy over the crowns of 

Europe and the Church of Rome. The grandiose design foundered; and with the loss of 

the Holy Land in 1291 it collapsed completely. The Merovingians were once again without 

a crown. And the Knights Templar were not only redundant but also expendable. 

In the centuries that followed, the Merovingians aided and/or directed and/or protected by 

the Prieure de Sion -made repeated attempts to regain their heritage, but these attempts 

were confined to Europe. 

They seem to have involved at least three interrelated but essentially 

distinct programmes. One was the creation of a psychological 

atmosphere, a clandestine tradition intended to erode the spiritual 

esoteric thought, in the 

Rosicrucian manifestos and similar writings, in certain rites of 

Freemasonry and, of course, in the symbols of Arcadia and the 

underground stream. A second programme entailed political machination, 

intrigue and, if feasible, an overt seizure of power the techniques 

employed by the Guise and Lorraine families in the sixteenth century, 

and by the architects of the Fronde in the seventeenth. A third 


programme by which the Merovingians sought to regain their heritage 

was dynastic intermarriage. 

On first consideration it might seem that such Byzantine procedures would have been 

unnecessary; it might seem that the Merovingians if they were indeed descended from 

Jesus would have had no trouble establishing their supremacy. They needed only to 

disclose and establish their real identity, and the world would acknowledge them. 

In fact, however, things would not have been so simple. Jesus himself 

was not recognised by the Romans. When it was expedient to do so, the 

Church had no compunction in sanctioning the murder of Dagobert and the 

overthrow of his bloodline. A premature disclosure of their pedigree 

would not have guaranteed success for the 

Merovingians. On the contrary, it would have been much more likely to misfire to 

engender factional strife, precipitate a crisis in faith, and provoke challenges from both the 

Church and other secular potentates. 

Unless they were well entrenched in positions of power, the Merovingians could not have 

withstood such repercussions and the secret of their identity, their trump card, as it were, 

would have been played and lost for ever. Given the realities of both history and politics, 

this trump card could not have been used as a stepping stone to power. It could only be 

played when power had already been acquired played, in other words, from a position of 


In order to re-establish themselves, therefore, the Merovingians were 

obliged to resort to more conventional procedures the accepted 

procedures of the particular age in question. On at least four 

occasions these procedures came frustratingly close to success, and 

were thwarted only by miscalculation, by force of circumstance or by 

the totally unforeseen. In the sixteenth century, for example, the 

house of Guise very nearly managed to seize the French throne. In the 

seventeenth century the Fronde very nearly succeeded in keeping Louis 

XIV from the throne and supplanting him with a representative of the 

house of Lorraine. In the late nineteenth century blueprints were laid 

for a species of revived Holy League, which would have unified Catholic 

Europe Austria, France, Italy and Spain under the Habsburgs. These 


plans were thwarted by the erratic and aggressive behaviour of both 

Germany and Russia who provoked a constant shift of alliances among the major powers 

and eventually precipitated a war which toppled all the continental dynasties. 

It was in the eighteenth century, however, that the Merovingian bloodline probably came 

closest to the realisation of its objectives. 

By virtue of its intermarriage with the Habsburgs, the house of 

Lorraine had actually acquired the throne of Austria, the Holy Roman 

Empire. When Marie 

Antoinette, daughter of Frano~ois de Lorraine, became queen of France 

the throne of France, too, was only a generation or so away. Had not 

the French 

Revolution intervened, the house of Habsburg-Lorraine might well, by the early 1800s, 

have been on its way to establishing dominion over all Europe. 

It would seem clear that the French Revolution was a devastating blow 


Merovingian hopes and aspirations. In a single shattering cataclysm, the carefully laid 

and implemented designs of a century and a half were suddenly reduced to rubble. From 

references in the "Prieure documents', moreover, it would seem that Sion, during the 

turmoil of the Revolution, lost many of its most precious records and possibly other items 

as well. 

This might explain the shift in the Order's Grand Mastership -to 

specifically French cultural figures who, like Nodier, had access to 

otherwise unobtainable material. It might also explain the role of 

Sauniere. Sauniere's predecessor, Antoine Bigou, had concealed, and 

possibly composed, the coded parchments on the very eve of the 

Revolution and then fled to Spain, where, shortly after, he died. It 

is thus possible that Sion, for a time at any rate, did not know 

precisely where the parchments were. But even if they were known to 

have been in the church at Rennes-leChateau, they could not easily have 

been retrieved without a sympathetic priest on the spot a man who would 

do Sion's bidding, refrain from embarrassing questions, keep silence, 

and not interfere with the 

Order's interests and activities. If the parchments, moreover, referred to something else 

something concealed in the vicinity of Rennes-leChateau, such a man would have been 

all the more essential. 

Sauniere died without divulging his secret. So did his housekeeper, 



Denarnaud. During the ensuing years there have been many excavations 

in the vicinity of Rennes-leChateau, but none of them has yielded anything. If, as we 

assume, certain explosive items were once concealed in the environs, they would 

certainly have been removed when Sauniere's story began to attract attention and 

treasure-hunters unless these items were concealed in some depository immune to 

treasure-hunters, in an underground crypt, for example, under a man-made pool on 

private property. Such a crypt would ensure safety and be proof against any un 

authorised excavations. No such excavations would be possible unless the pool were first 

drained; and this could hardly be done clandestinely -especially by trespassers on private 

land. In fact a manmade pool does exist near Rennes-leChateau near a site called, 

appropriately enough, Lavaldieu (the Valley or Vale of God). This pool might well have 

been constructed over an underground crypt which, in turn, might easily lead via a 

subterranean passageway to any of the myriad caves honey combing the surrounding 


As for the parchments found by Sauniere, two of them -or, at any rate, facsimiles of two of 

them have been reproduced, published and widely circulated. The other two, in contrast, 

have been kept scrupulously secret. 

In his conversation with us M. Plantard stated that they are currently in a safe deposit box 

in a Lloyds' bank in London. Further than that we have been unable to trace them. 

And Sauniere's money? We know that some of it seems to have been obtained through a 

financial transaction involving the Archduke Johann von Habsburg. 

We also know that substantial sums were made available not only to 

Sauniere, but also to the bishop of Carcassonne, by the Abbe Henri 

Boudet, cure of Rennes-les-Bains. There is reason to conclude that the 

bulk of 

Sauniere's revenue was paid to him by Boudet, through the 


Marie Denarnaud, Sauniere's housekeeper. Where Boudet - a poor parish priest himself 

obtained such resources remains, of course, a mystery. 

He would clearly seem to have been a representative of the Prieure de 

Sion; but whether the money issued directly from Sion remains an 

unanswered question. It might equally well have issued from the 

treasury of the 

Habsburgs. Or it might have issued from the Vatican, which might have 

been subjected to high-level political blackmail by both Sion and the 


Habsburgs. In any case, the question of the money, or a treasure that 

engendered it, became, for us, increasingly incidental, when measured against our 

subsequent discoveries. Its chief function, in retrospect, had been to draw our attention to 

the mystery. After that, it paled to relative insignificance. 

We have formulated an hypothesis of a bloodline, descended from Jesus, which has 

continued up to the present day. We cannot, of course, be certain that our hypothesis is 

correct in every detail. But even if specific details here and there are subject to 

modification, we are convinced that the essential outlines of our hypothesis are accurate. 

We may perhaps have misconstrued the meaning of, say, a particular 

Grand Master's activities; or an alliance in the power struggles and 

political machinations of eighteenth-century politics. But our 

researches have persuaded us that the mystery of RennesleChateau does 

involve a serious attempt, by influential people, to re-establish a 

Merovingian monarchy in France if not indeed in the whole of 

Europe and that the claim to legitimacy of such a monarchy rests on a 

Merovingian descent from Jesus. 

Viewed from this perspective a number of the anomalies, enigmas and 

unanswered questions raised by our researches become explicable. So do 

a great many of the seemingly trivial but equally baffling fragments: 

the title of the book associated with Nicolas Flamel, for example The 


Book of Abraham the Jew, Prince, Priest, Levite, Astrologer and 

Philosopher to the Tribe of Jews who by the Wrath of God were Dispersed 

amongst the 

Gauls; or the symbolic Grail cup of Rene d'Anjou, which vouchsafed, to 

the man who quaffed it at a single draught, a vision of both God and 


Magdalene; or Andrea's Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreuz, which speaks of a 

mysterious girl-child of royal blood, washed ashore in a boat, whose rightful heritage has 

fallen into Islamic hands; or the secret to which Poussin was privy as well as the "Secret' 

said to "lie at the heart' of the Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement. 

During the course of our research we had encountered a number of other 

fragments as well. At the time they had seemed either totally 


meaningless or irrelevant. Now, however, they, too, make sense. Thus 

it would now seem clear why Louis XI regarded the Magdalene as a source 

of the French royal line a belief which, even in the context of the 

fifteenth century, at first appeared absurd." It would also be 

apparent why the crown of Charlemagne a replica of which is now part of 

the imperial Habsburg regalia is said to have borne the inscription 

"Rex Salomon'. z And it would be apparent why the 

Protocols of the Elders of Sion speak of a new king "of the holy seed 



During the Second World War, for reasons that have never been satisfactorily explained, 

the Cross of Lorraine became the symbol of the forces of Free France, under the 

leadership of Charles de Gaulle. 

In itself this is somewhat curious. Why should the Cross of Lorraine 

the device of 

Rene d'Anjou have been equated with France? Lorraine was never the 

heartland of France. For most of her history, in fact, Lorraine was an 

independent duchy, a Germanic state comprising part of the old Holy 



In part the Cross of Lorraine may have been adopted because of the 

important role the Prieure de Sion seems to have played in the French 

Resistance. In part it may have been adopted because of General de Gaulle's association 

with members of the Prieure de Sion like M. Plantard. But it is interesting that, nearly 

thirty years before, the Cross of Lorraine figured provocatively in a poem by Charles 


Not long before his death at the Battle of the Marne in 1914, Peguy - a 

close friend of Maurice 

Barres, author of La Colline inspiree composed the following lines: 

Les ames de Jesus c'est la croix de Lorraine, 

Et le sang dans 1 'art ere et le sang dans la veine, 

Et la source de grace et la Claire fontaine; 

Les ames de Satan c'est la croix de Lorraine, 

Et c'est la meme art ere et c'est la meme veine 

Et c'est le meme sang et la trouble fontaine .. . 

(The arms of Jesus are the Cross of Lorraine, 

Both the blood in the artery and the blood in the vein, 

Both the source of grace and the clear fountain; 


The arms of Satan are the Cross of Lorraine, And the same artery and 

the same vein, 

And the same blood and the troubled fountain .. . )4 

In the late seventeenth century the Reverend Father Vincent, an 

historian and antiquarian in Nancy, wrote a history of Sion in 

Lorraine. He also wrote another work, entitled The True History of 

Saint Sigisbert, which also contains an account of the life of Dagobert 

1 1 .5 On the title page of this latter work there is an epigraph, a 

quotation from the Fourth Gospel, 

"He is among you and you do not know Him." 

Even before we began our research, we ourselves were agnostic, neither pro-Christian 

nor anti-Christian. By virtue of our background and study of comparative religions we 

were sympathetic to the core of validity inherent in most of the world's major faiths, and 

indifferent to the dogma, the theology, the accoutrements which comprise their 

superstructure. And while we could accord respect to almost every creed, we could not 

accord to any of them a monopoly on truth. 

Thus, when our research led us to Jesus, we could approach him with 

what we hoped was a sense of balance and perspective. We had no 

prejudices or preconceptions one way or the other, no vested interests 

of any kind, nothing to be gained by either proving or disproving 

anything. In so far as "objectivity' is possible, we were able to 

approach Jesus "objectively' as an historian would be expected to 

approach Alexander, for example, or 

Caesar. And the conclusions that forced themselves upon us, though certainly startling, 

were not shattering. They did not necessitate a reappraisal of our personal convictions or 

shake our personal hierarchies of values. 

But what of other people? What of the millions of individuals across the world for whom 

Jesus is the Son of God, the Saviour, the Redeemer? To what extent does the historical 

Jesus, the priest-king who emerged from our research, threaten their faith? To what 

extent have we violated what constitutes for many people their most cherished 

understanding of the sacred? 

We are well aware, of course, that our research has led us to 

conclusions that, in many respects, are inimical to certain basic 

tenets of modern 


Christianity conclusions that are heretical, perhaps even blasphemous. From the 

standpoint of certain established dogma we are no doubt guilty of such transgressions. 

But we do not believe that we have desecrated, or even diminished, Jesus in the eyes of 

those who do genuinely revere him. And while we ourselves cannot subscribe to Jesus's 

divinity, our conclusions do not preclude others from doing so. Quite simply, there is no 

reason why Jesus could not have married and fathered children, while still retaining his 

divinity. There is no reason why his divinity should be dependent on sexual chastity. 

Even if he were the Son of God, there is no reason why he should not have wed and sired 

a family. 

Underlying most Christian theology is the assumption that Jesus is God 

incarnate. In other words God, taking pity on His creation, 


Himself in that creation and assumed human form. By doing so He would be able to 

acquaint Himself at first-hand, so to speak, with the human condition. He would 

experience at first-hand the vicissitudes of human existence. He would come to 

understand, in the most profound sense, what it means to be a man to confront from a 

human standpoint the loneliness, the anguish, the helplessness, the tragic mortality that 

the status of manhood entails. By dint of becoming man God would come to know man in 

a way that the Old Testament does not allow. Renouncing His Olympian aloofness and 

remoteness, He would partake, directly, of man's lot. By doing so, He would redeem 

man's lot would validate and justify it by partaking of it, suffering from it and eventually 

being sacrificed by it. 

The symbolic significance of Jesus is that he is God exposed to the spectrum of human 

experience exposed to the first-hand knowledge of what being a man entails. But could 

God, incarnate as Jesus, truly claim to be a man, to encompass the spectrum of human 

experience, without coming to know two of the most basic, most elemental facets of the 

human condition? 

Could God claim to know the totality of human existence without confronting two such 

essential aspects of humanity as sexuality and paternity? 

We do not think so. In fact, we do not think the Incarnation truly symbolises what it is 

intended to symbolise unless Jesus were married and sired children. 


The Jesus of the Gospels, and of established Christianity, is 

ultimately incomplete a God whose incarnation as man is only partial. The Jesus who 

emerged from our research enjoys, in our opinion, a much more valid claim to what 

Christianity would, have him be. 

On the whole, then, we do not think we have compromised or belittled Jesus. 

We do not think he has suffered from the conclusions to which our 

research led us. From our investigations emerges a living and 

plausible Jesus a 

Jesus whose life is both meaningful and comprehensible to modern man. 

We cannot point to one man and assert that he is Jesus's lineal descendant. 

Family trees bifurcate, subdivide and in the course of centuries 

multiply into veritable forests. There are at least a dozen families 

in Britain and 

Europe today with numerous collateral branches who are of Merovingian 

lineage. These include the houses of Habsburg-Lorraine (present 

titular dukes of Lorraine and kings of Jerusalem), Plantard, Luxembourg 


Montesquieu and various others. According to the "Prieure documents', 


Sinclair family in Britain is also allied to the bloodline, as are the various branches of the 

Stuarts. And the Devonshire family, among others, would seem to have been privy to the 

secret. Most of these houses could presumably claim a pedigree from Jesus; and if one 

man, at some point in the future, is to be put forward as a new priest-king, we do not know 

who he is. 

But several things, at any rate, are clear. So far as we personally 

are concerned, Jesus's lineal descendant would not be any more divine, 

any more intrinsically miraculous, than the rest of us. This attitude 

would undoubtedly be shared by a great many people today. We suspect 

it is shared by the Prieure de Sion as well. Moreover the revelation 

of an individual, or group of individuals, descended from Jesus would 

not shake the world in the way it might have done as recently as a 

century or two ago. Even if there were "incontrovertible proof of 

such a lineage, many people would simply shrug and ask, "So what?" As 

a result there would seem to be little point in the Prieure de Sion's 

elaborate designs -unless those designs are in some crucial way linked 

with politics. Whatever the theological repercussions of our 


conclusions, there would seem, quite clearly, to be other 

repercussions as well political repercussions with a potentially enormous impact, affecting 
the thinking, the values, the institutions of the contemporary world in which we live. 
Certainly in the past, the various families of Merovingian descent were thoroughly steeped 
in politics, and their objectives included political power. This would also seem to have 
been true of the Prieure de Sion and a number of its Grand Masters. There is no reason 
to assume that politics should not be equally important to both Sion and the bloodline 

Indeed all the evidence suggests that Sion thinks in terms of a unity between what used to 
be called Church and State a unity of secular and spiritual, sacred and profane, politics 
and religion. In many of its documents Sion asserts that the new king in accordance with 
Merovingian tradition, would "rule but not govern'. In other words he would be a priest- 
king, who functions primarily in a ritual and symbolic capacity; and the actual business of 
governing would be handled by someone else conceivably by the Prieure de Sion. 
During the nineteenth century the Prieure de Sion, working through 
Freemasonry and the Hieron du Val d'Or, attempted to establish ~ a 
revived and "updated' Holy Roman Empire a kind of theocratic United 
States of 

Europe, ruled simultaneously by the Habsburgs and by a radically 

Church. This enterprise was thwarted by the First World War and the 
fall of 

Europe's reigning dynasties. But it is not unreasonable to suppose 

Sion's present objectives are basically similar at least in their general outlines to those of 
the Hieron du Val d'Or. 

Needless to say, our understanding of those objectives can only be 
speculative. But they would seem to include a theocratic United States 

Europe a trans or pan-European confederation assembled into a modern 
empire and ruled by a dynasty descended from Jesus. This dynasty would 
not only occupy a throne of political or secular power, but quite 
conceivably, the throne of Saint Peter as well. Under that supreme 
authority there might then be an interlocking network of kingdoms or 
principalities, connected by dynastic alliance and intermarriage a kind 
of twentieth-century "feudal system', but without the abuses usually 


associated with that term. And the actual process of governing would 

presumably reside with the Prieure de Sion which might take the form 

of, say, a European 

Parliament endowed with executive and/or legislative powers. 

A Europe of this sort would constitute a new and unified political force in international 

affairs an entity whose status would ultimately be comparable to that of the Soviet Union, 

or the United States. Indeed it might well emerge stronger than either, because it would 

rest on deep-rooted spiritual and emotional foundations, rather than on abstract, 

theoretical or ideological ones. It would appeal not only to man's head, but to his heart as 

well. It would draw its strength from tapping the collective psyche of Western Europe, 

awakening the fundamental religious impulse. 

Such a programme may well appear quixotic. But history by now should 

have taught us not to underestimate the potential of the collective 

psyche, and the power to be obtained by harnessing it. A few years ago 

it would have seemed inconceivable that a religious zealot without an 

army of his own, without a political party behind him, without anything 

at his disposal save charisma and the religious hunger of a people 

could single-handedly topple the modern and superbly equipped edifice 

of the Shah's regime in 

Iran. And yet that is precisely what the Ayatollah Khomeini managed to do. 

We are not, of course, sounding a warning. We are not, implicitly or explicitly, comparing 

the Prieure de Sion to the Ayatollah. We have no reason to think Sion sinister -as one 

might the demagogue of Iran. But the demagogue of Iran bears eloquent witness to the 

deep-rooted character, the energy, the potential power of man's religious impulse and the 

ways in which that impulse can be channelled to political ends. Such ends need not entail 

an abuse of authority. They may be as laudable as those of Churchill or de Gaulle were 

during the Second World War. The religious impulse can be channelled in any of 

innumerable directions. It is a source of immense potential power. 

And it is all too often ignored or overlooked by modern governments 

founded on, and often fettered to, reason alone. The religious impulse 

reflects a profound psychological and emotional need. And 

psychological and emotional needs are every bit as real as the need for 


bread, for shelter, for material security. 

We know that the Prieure de Sion is not a "lunatic fringe' organisation. We know it is well 

financed and includes -or, at any race, commands sympathy from men in responsible and 

influential positions in politics, economics, media, the arts. We know that since 1956 it 

has increased its membership more than fourfold, as if it were mobil ising or preparing for 

something; and M. Plantard told us personally that he and his Order were working to a 

more or less precise timetable. We also know that since 1956 Sion has been making 

certain information available discreetly, tantalisingly, in piecemeal fashion, in measured 

quantities just sufficient to provide alluring hints. Those hints provoked this book. 

If the Prieure de Sion intends to "show its cards', the time is ripe 

for it to do so. The political systems and ideologies which, in the 

early years of our century, seemed to promise so much have virtually 

all displayed a degree of bankruptcy. Communism, socialism, fascism, 


Western-style democracy have all, in one way or another, betrayed their promise, 

jaundiced their adherents and failed to fulfill the dreams they engendered. Because of 

their small-mindedness, lack of perspective and abuse of office, politicians no longer 

inspire confidence, only distrust. 

In the West today there is increasing cynicism, dissatisfaction and disillusion. There is 

increasing psychic stress, anxiety and despair. But there is also an intensifying quest for 

meaning, for emotional fulfilment, for a spiritual dimension to our lives, for something in 

which genuinely to believe. There is a longing for a renewed sense of the sacred that 

amounts, in effect, to a full-scale religious revival exemplified by the proliferation of sects 

and cults, for example, and the swelling tide of fundamentalism in the United States. 

There is also, increasingly, a desire for a true "leader' not a Fiihrer, but a species of wise 

and benign spiritual figure, a priest king in whom mankind can safely repose its trust. Our 

civilisation has sated itself with materialism and in the process become aware of a more 

profound hunger. It is now beginning to look elsewhere, seeking the fulfilment of 

emotional, psychological and spiritual needs. 

Such an atmosphere would seem eminently conducive to the Prieure de 


Sion's objectives. It places Sion in the position of being able to 

offer an alternative to existing social and political systems. Such an alternative is hardly 

likely to constitute Utopia or the New Jerusalem. But to the extent that it satisfies needs 

which existing systems do not even acknowledge it could well prove immensely attractive. 

There are many devout Christians who do not hesitate to interpret the 

Apocalypse as nuclear holocaust. How might the advent of Jesus's 

lineal descendant be interpreted? To a receptive audience, it might be 

a kind of 

Second Coming. 



Postscript to the Paperback Edition 

Since the publication of our book, much new material has been forthcoming. 

Some readers, with extremely important new information, have been open and generous 

in passing it on to us. Others have preferred to be cryptic, enigmatic and elliptical, 

speaking mysteriously of unspecified knowledge they possess, or unspecified research 

they have done which has led to equally unspecified conclusions of a 

startling/amazing/shattering/definitive nature. Such hints may indeed attest to new and 

valid material or to an irrelevant intellectual ingenuity and a need for spurious 


In any case, we have received letters from people so aggressively over-cautious and 

secretive that we wonder why they bothered to write to us at all. Their shroud of obscurity 

and opacity seems to have been generated by a fear (verging sometimes on paranoia) 

that they may be deprived, unscrupulously, of the fruits of their work that we might steal 

the results of their research, or their decipherments, or the treasure they are convinced 

they have located, and leave them unacknowledged, un recognised unrewarded. 

In The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, we have presented our material openly. We have 

also supplied information about relevant sources, in order that others may be stimulated to 

research of their own. The time for mystification is now past. We hope that readers who 

have what they consider worthwhile material will be as forthcoming as we have tried to be. 

We urge them, if possible, to publish it themselves. Alternatively, we request them to 

make their findings available to us. 

We hereby publicly state that no such material will be published, used 

or exploited by us unless some prior and mutually acceptable 

arrangement has been concluded with those who provide it. We also 


publicly state that all such material, if used by us in any way, will 
be duly acknowledged in a fashion that is likewise mutually acceptable. We would also 
like to state that we have NO interest, beyond the historical and archaeological, in any 
"treasure' uncovered in connection with Rennes-leChateau. We wish only to observe and 
record such discoveries as and when they might be made. Any cash rewards accruing 
from any 'treasure' would remain with those whose information leads to the location of the 
relevant site. 


Appendix The Alleged Grand Masters o f the Prieure de Sion 

JEAN DE Gl SORS According to the "Prieure documents', jean de Gisors 


Sion's first independent Grand Master, assuming his position after the 'cutting of the elm' 

and the separation from the Knights Templar in 1 1 88. He was born in 1 1 33 and died in 

1 220. He was at least nominal lord of the fortress of Gisors in Normandy where meetings 

were traditionally convened between English and French kings and where, in 1188, a 

curious squabble did occur which involved the cutting of an elm. Until 1 193 Jean was a 

vassal of the king of England Henry II and then Richard I. He also possessed property in 

England in Sussex, and the manor of Titchfield in Hampshire. 

According to the "Prieure documents', he met with Thomas a Becket in 1 1 69. 

No independent record of this meeting survives, but Becket was at Gisors in 1 169 and 

must have had some contact with the lord of the fortress. 

MARIE DE SAINT-CLAIR. Information on Marie de Saint Clair was even 

more meagre than information on jean de Gisors._.Born around 1 192, she 

was descended from Henry de Saint-Clair, Baron of Rosslyn in Scotland, 

who accompanied Godfroi de Bouillon on the First Crusade. Rosslyn 

itself was situated not far from the Templars' major preceptory in 

Scotland, and 

Rosslyn Chapel, built in the fifteenth century, became mantled with Rose Croix and 

Freemasonry legends. Marie de Saint-Clair's grandmother married into the French 

Chaumont family -as did Jean de Gisors. The genealogies of the Chaumont, Gisors and 

Saint-Clair families were thus closely intertwined. 

There is some evidence that Marie de Saint Clair was, in fact, jean 


Gisors' second wife, but we could not confirm this definitely. 

According to the genealogies in the "Prieure documents', Marie's mother 

was one Isabel 


Levis. This surname, which would seem to 5 The Families of Gisors, 

Payen and 


From the work of Henri Lobineau (Henri de Lenoncourt) 

Houu of Chaumont 


"The Moor of Gardille' 



101 1-671 01 7_75 


1 035-91 1 036-951 031 -75 1 st Lord of Gisors 



1070-1131 LordofGuury 


Order of the Temple GUILLAUME DE CHAUMONT 1 091 -? 

Lord of Gunry 


heiress of Samt-Clatr3q-7q 

Lord of Guury 


"It. Pay., 1055-1130 

Lord of Gieors 



1155-1221 1160-1232 



Lord of Gisors 

Sours Mermtnps 





Load of Guors frotoder of the 

Rme-Crowin 1188 

GM. Prieurcde Sion 


1 1 83-1 21 3 1 1 81 -1 225 Abbot, Pricurf d< StonLord of Gisors 



Lord of Gnwrs 


GM. Riewt de Sinn 1 266 Line continues to present day be of Judaic 

origin, occurs frequently in the Languedoc, where there were 

Jewish settlements dating from before the Christian epoch. 

GUILLAUME DE Gl SORS Guillaume de Gisors, jean de Gisors' grandson, 

was born in 1219. We had already encountered his name in connection 

with the mysterious head found in the Templars' Paris preceptory after 

the arrests in 1307. Apart from this, however, we found only one 

external mention of him, on a deed dated 1244, which states that he was 

a knight. According to the genealogies in the "Prieure documents', his 

sister married one jean des 

Plantard. The "Prieure documents' also state that Guillaume was inducted into the Order 

of the Ship and the Double Crescent in 1269. This Order was created by Louis IX (Saint 

Louis) for nobles who accompanied him on the illfated Sixth Crusade. If Guillaume de 

Gisors was a member of it, he must therefore have been with Saint Louis during the 

campaign in Egypt. 

EDOUARD DE BAR. Barn in 1302, Edouard, Comte de Bar, was a grandson 


Edward I of England and a nephew of Edward II. He was descended from a family which 

had been influential in the Ardennes since Merovingian times and was almost certainly 

connected with the Merovingian dynasty. 

Edouard's daughter married into the house of Lorraine, and the 

genealogies of Bar and 

Lorraine subsequently become closely intertwined. 

In 1308, at the age of six (!), Edouard accompanied the duke of 

Lorraine into battle, was captured and not ransomed until 1314. On 

attaining his majority he purchased the seigneury of Stenay from one of 

his uncles, Jean de Bar. In 1324 he was allied in military operations 

with Ferry de Lorraine and Jean de Luxembourg and the house of 

Luxembourg, like that of 

Lorraine, would seem to be of Merovingian blood. In 1336 Edouard died in a shipwreck 

off the coast of Cyprus. 

No independent source could provide us with any link between Edouard de 

Bar and Guillaume de Gisors. According to the genealogies in the 

"Prieure documents', however, Edouard was grand-nephew of Guillaume's 

wife, lolande de Bar. While we could not confirm this affiliation, we 


found nothing to contradict it. If, as the "Prieure documents' 

maintain, Edouard assumed Sion's Grand 

Mastership in 1307, he would have done so at the age of five. This is not necessarily 

improbable, if he was captured on the battlefield at the age of six. Until Edouard attained 

his majority the comte of Bar was governed by his uncle, jean de Bar, who acted as 

regent. It is possible that Jean acted in the capacity of "regent Grand Master' as well. But 

there would seem to be no sense in the selection of a five-year-old boy as Grand Master 

unless the Grand Mastership was in some way linked to heredity or blood descent. 

JEANNE DE BAR. Jeanne de Bar was born in 1295, the elder sister of Edouard. 

She was thus a granddaughter of Edward I of England, and a niece of 


II. In 1310, at the age of fifteen, she was married to the earl of 


Surrey, Sussex and Strathern and divorced from him some five years 

later, after he was excommunicated for adultery. Jeanne continued to 

live in 

England, however; and though we could find no detailed record of her 

activities, she seems to have enjoyed extremely cordial relations with 


English throne. She seems to have had similar relations with the king 


France who in 1345 invited her back to the continent, where she became 

regent of the comte of Bar. In 1353 despite the Hundred Years War and 

the consequent hostility between England and France Jeanne returned 


England. When the French monarch was captured at the Battle of 

Poitiers in 1356 and imprisoned in London, Jeanne was allowed to 

"comfort' and minister to him. During his subsequent prolonged 

incarceration, Jeanne is said to have been his mistress, although both 

were elderly at the time. She died in 

London in 1361. 

According to the "Prieure documents', Jeanne de Bar presided over the 

Prieure de Sion until 1351 , ten years before her death. She thus appears to be the only 

figure on the list of Grand Masters to have resigned, abdicated, or been deposed from her 


JEAN DE SAINT-CLAIR. Our researches yielded virtually nothing about 

Jean de 

Saint-Clair, who seems to have been a very minor figure indeed. He was 

born around 1329 and descended from the French houses of Chaumont, 


Gisors and Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. According to the genealogies in the 

"Prieure documents', his grandfather was married to Jeanne de Bar's aunt. This 

relationship is certainly tenuous. Nevertheless, it would seem to suggest that the Grand 

Mastership of Sion was still circulating exclusively within a network of interlinked families. 

BLANCHE D'EVREUX. Blanche d'Evreux was in fact Blanche de Navarre, daughter of 

the king of Navarre. She was born in 1332. From her father she inherited the comtes of 

Longueville and Evreux, both immediately adjacent to Gisors; and in 1359 she became 

countess of Gisors as well. Ten years previously she had married Philippe VI, king of 

France, through whom she almost certainly knew Jeanne de Bar. She spent much of her 

life at the Chateau of Neuphle, near Gisors, and died there in 1398. 

According to numerous legends, Blanche was immersed in alchemical studies and 

experimentation; and tradition speaks of laboratories at certain of her chateaux. She is 

said to have possessed a priceless alchemical work, produced in the Languedoc during 

the fourteenth century but based on a manuscript dating from the last days of the 

Merovingian dynasty seven hundred years before. She is also rumoured to have been a 

personal patron of Nicolas Flamel. 

NicoLns FLA MEL Flamel's is the first name on the list of Grand Masters not to be 

affiliated by blood with the genealogies in the "Prieure documents'; and with him the 

Grand Mastership of Sion seems to have ceased being exclusively a family sinecure. 

Flamel was born around 1330 and worked for a time as a scrivener, or copyist, in Paris. 

By virtue pf his occupation, many rare books passed through his hands, and he acquired 

proficiency in painting, poetry, mathematics and architecture. He also acquired an interest 

in alchemy, and Cabalistic and Hermetic thought. 

Around 1361 Flamel, according to his own account, happened upon the 

alchemical text that was to transform his life. Its complete title is 

both puzzling and interesting The Sacred "Book of Abraham the Jew, 


Priest, Levite, Astrologer and Philosopher to that Tribe of Jews who by 


the Wrath of God were Dispersed amongst the Gauls. This work 

subsequently became one of the most famous in Western esoteric tradition. The original 

is said to have been deposited in the Arsenal Library in Paris. Reproductions of it have 

been assiduously, religiously and, it would seem, vainly studied by successive generations 

of would-be adepts. 

According to his own account, Flamel pored over the book with no 

greater success for twenty-one years. At last, on a journey to Spain 

in 1382, he claimed to have met a converted Jew in Leon who elucidated 

the text for him. On returning to Paris he applied what he had 

learned, and is said to have performed his first successful alchemical 

transmutation at noon on 

January 17 th the date that recurs so persistently in connection with 

Sauniere and Rennes-leChateau. 

Whether Flamel's account is accurate or not,~the fact remains that he became 

phenomenally wealthy. By the end of his life he owned more than thirty houses and tracts 

of land in Paris alone. At the same time, however, he seems to have been a modest man 

who did not revel-in power and lavished much of his wealth on good works. By 1413 he 

had founded and endowed fourteen hospitals, seven churches and three chapels in Paris, 

and a comparable number in Boulogne the old comte of Godfroi de Bouillon's father. This 

altruism, perhaps even more than his dazzling success, endeared him to posterity. As 

late as the eighteenth century he was revered by men like Sir Isaac Newton, who 

painstakingly read through his works, copiously annotated them and even copied one of 

them out by hand. 

RENE D'ANJOU. We discovered no recorded contact between Flamel and 

Rene d'Anjou. At the same time, however, Rene himself gave us 

sufficient material to ponder. Although little known today, he was one 

of the most important figures in the years immediately preceding the 

Renaissance. Born in 1408, he came, in the course of his life, to hold 

an awesome array of titles. Among the most important were count of 

Bar, count of Provence, count of Piedmont, count of Guise, duke of 

Calabria, duke of Anjou, duke of Lorraine, king of 

Hungary, king of Naples and Sicily, king of Aragon, Valencia, Majorca 




And, perhaps most resonant of all, king of Jerusalem. This latter 

status was, of course, purely titular. Nevertheless, it invoked a 

continuity extending back to Godfroi de Bouillon, and was acknowledged 

by other 

European potentates. One of Rene's daughters, in 1445, married Henry 

VI of 

England and became a prominent figure in the Wars of the Roses. 

According to the "Prieure documents', Rene became Grand Master of Sion in 1418 at the 

age of ten and his uncle, Louis, Cardinal de Bar, is said to have exercised a "regency 

Grand Mastership' until 1428. Our research revealed that Rene was inducted into an 

order of some kind in 1 41 8 1 "Ordre du Levrier Blanc ("White Greyhound') but we 

discovered no further information of consequence about it. Certainly it might have been 

Sion under another name. 

Sometime between 1420 and 1422 the cardinal of Lorraine created another 

order, I'Ordre de la Fidelite, and Rene was admitted as one of the 

original members. In 1448 Rene established an order of his own, the 

Order of the 

Crescent. Rene himself described the Order of the Crescent as a 

revived version of the old Order of the Ship and the Double Crescent of 


Guillaume de Gisors was a member a century and a half before. The 


Knights of the Crescent included Francesco Sforza, duke of Milan and 

father of Leonardo da Vinci's patron; the count of Lenoncourt whose 

descendant, according to the "Prieure documents," compiled the 

genealogies in the 

Dossiers secrets; and one Ferri, lord of the important fiefdom in Lorraine dating from 

Merovingian times and called Sion-Vaudemont. These individuals were intended by Rene 

to comprise his riposte, so to speak, to the Order of the Garter in England and the Order 

of the Golden Fleece in Burgundy. But for reasons that remain unclear the Order of the 

Crescent incurred ecclesiastical displeasure and was suppressed by the Pope. 

It is from Rene d'Anjou that the modern Cross of Lorraine symbol of 


Free French Forces during the Second World War ultimately derives. When he became 

duke of Lorraine the 'now familiar cross with its two horizontal bars became his personal 



10 LANDE DE BAR. Born around 1428, lolande de Bar was Rene d'Anjou's 

daughter. In 1445 she was married to Ferri, lord of 

Sion-Vaudemont and one of the original knights in Rene's Order of the 

Crescent. After Ferris death lolande spent most of her life at 

Sion-Vaudemont -which, under her auspices, was extended from a local 

pilgrimage centre to a sacred site for the whole of Lorraine. In the 

distant pagan past the place had already enjoyed such status, and a 

statue of 

Rosemerthe, an old Gallo-Teutonic Mother Goddess, was subsequently 

found there. Even in early Christian times the site was regarded as 

holy although its name then was Mount Semita, implying something more 

Judaic than 

Christian. During the Merovingian epoch a statue of the Virgin had 

been erected there, and in 1070 the ruling count of Vaudemont had 

publicly proclaimed himself "vassal of the Queen of Heaven'. The 

Virgin of Sion was officially declared "Sovereign of the Comte of 

Vaudemont', festivals were held in her honour every May and she was 

acknowledged Protectress of all 

Lorraine. Our researches yielded a charter, dating from 1396, which 

pertains to a special chivalric confraternity based on the mountain, 

Confraternity of Chevaliers de Sion which reputedly traced' its origins to the old abbey on 

Mount Sion just outside Jerusalem. By the fifteenth century, however, Sion-Vaudemont 

seems to have lost some of its significance, lolande de Bar restored to it something of its 

former glory. 

lolande's son, Rene, subsequently became duke of Lorraine. On his 

parents' instructions he was educated in Florence, thus becoming well 

versed in the esoteric tradition and orientation of the academies. His 

tutor was Georges 

Antoine Vespucci, one of Botticelli's chief patrons and sponsors. 

SANDRO FILIPEPI. Better known as Botticelli, Sandro Filipepi was born 

in 1444. With the exception of Nicolas Flamel, his is the first name 

on the list of Sion's alleged Grand Masters not to be directly 

affiliated with the families whose genealogies figure in the "Prieure 

documents'. At the same time, however, he seems to have enjoyed an 

extremely close rapport with some of those families. Among his patrons 

were the Medicis, the Estes, the 


Gonzagas and the Vespuccis the last of whom had provided the tutor for 

lolande de Bar's son, the future duke of Lorraine. 

Botticelli himself studied under Filippo Lippi and Mantegna, both of 

whom had been patronised by Rene d'Anjou. He also studied under 

Verrocchio, an alchemist and exponent of Hermetic thought, whose other 

pupils included 

Leonardo da Vinci. 

Like most people we did not at first think of Botticelli in "occult' or esoteric terms. But 

recent scholars of the Renaissance Edgar Wind, for instance, and Frances Yates have 

effectively argued an esoteric predisposition in him, and we deferred to the 

persuasiveness of their conclusions. Botticelli does seem to have been an "esotericisf, 

and the greater part of his work reflects an embodiment of esoteric principles. One of the 

earliest known decks of Tarot cards is ascribed to Botticelli or his tutor, Mantegna. And 

the famous painting "Primavera' is, among many other things, an elaboration on the theme 

of Arcadia and the esoteric "underground stream'. 

LEONARDO DA VINCI. Born in 1452, Leonardo was well acquainted with 

Botticelli in large part through their joint apprenticeship to Verrocchio. 

Like Botticelli, he was patronised by the Medicis, the Estes and the 

Gonzagas. He was also patronised by Ludovico Sforza, son of 


Sforza, one of Rene d'Anjou's closest friends and an original member of 


Order of the Crescent. 

Leonardo's esoteric interests and orientation, like Botticelli's, have by now been well 

established. Frances Yates, in conversation with one of our researchers, described him 

as an early "Rosicrucian'. But in Leonardo's case esoterica would appear to extend even 

further than in Botticelli's. 

Even Vasari, his biographer and contemporary, describes him as being of "an heretical 

cast of mind'. What precisely might have constituted his heresy remains unclear. During 

the last few years, however, certain authorities have ascribed to him an ancient heretical 

belief that Jesus had a twin. 

Certainly there is evidence for this contention, in a cartoon sketch 


"The Virgin with Saint John the Baptist and Saint Anne', and in the 


"Last Supper' where there are, in fact, two virtually identical Christs. 

But there is no indication of whether the doctrine of Jesus's twin is 


to be taken literally or symbolically. Between 1515 and 1517 

Leonardo, as a military engineer, was attached to the army of Charles 

de Montpensier and de Bourbon, Constable of France, Viceroy of 

Languedoc and Milan. In 1518 he established himself at the Chateau 


Cloux, and again seems to have been in proximity to the constable, who was living near 

by at Amboise. 

CONN TABLE DE BOURBON. Charles de Montpensier and de Bourbon, Duke 


Chatellerault, Constable of France, was probably the single most powerful lord in France 

in the early sixteenth century. Born in 1490, he was the son of Claire de Gonzaga; and 

his sister married the duke of Lorraine, grandson of lolande de Bar and great-grandson of 

Rene d'Anjou. Among Charles's personal entourage was one jean de Joyeuse, who, 

through marriage, had become lord of Couiza, Rennes-leChateau and Arques, near where 

the tomb identical to the one in Poussin's painting stands. 

As Viceroy of Milan, Charles was in contact with Leonardo da Vinci; and 

this contact seems to have continued later, near Amboise. In 1 521 , 


Charles incurred the displeasure of Franqois I of France, and was 

forced to abandon his estates and flee the country incognito. He found 

a refuge with 

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and became a commander of the imperial army. 

In this capacity he defeated and captured the French king at the Battle 


Pavia in 1525. Two years later he died while besieging Rome. 

FERDINAND DE GONZAGUE. Ferrante de Gonzaga, as he is more commonly 

known, was born in 1507, the son of the duke of Mantua and of Isabelle 

d'Este one of Leonardo's most zealous patrons. His primary title was 

count of 

Guastalla. In 1527 he assisted his cousin, Charles de Montpensier and 


Bourbon, in the latter's military operations. Some years later he seems to have been 

covertly in league with Franqois de Lorraine, Duke of Guise, who came within a hair's- 

breadth of seizing the French throne. Like virtually all the Gonzagas of Mantua, Ferrante 

was an assiduous devotee of esoteric thought. 

At the same time, he also confronted us with the only fragment of 


ostensibly wrong information we encountered in the whole of the 

"Prieure documents'. According to the list of Sion's 

Grand Masters in the Dossiers secrets, Ferrante presided over the Order until his death in 

1575. According to independent sources, however, he is believed to have died near 

Brussels in 1557. The circumstances surrounding his death are extremely vague, and it is 

possible, of course, that he did not die in 1557 at all, but merely went to ground. On the 

other hand, the date in the Dossiers secrets may be a genuine error. What is more, 

Ferrante had a son, Cesar, who did die in 1575, and who may somehow have become 

confused with his father -deliberately or otherwise. The point is that we found no other 

such apparently glaring inaccuracies in the "Prieure documents', even when the subject 

was far more obscure and less susceptible to contradiction from independent sources. It 

seemed almost inconceivable to us that an error in this particular instance could occur 

through mere carelessness or oversight. On the contrary it was almost as if the error, by 

so flagrantly confuting accepted accounts, was intended to convey something. 

LOUIS DE NE VERS Louis, Duke of Nevers, was, in fact, Louis de 

Gonzaga. Born in 1539, he was the nephew of Ferrante de Gonzaga, his 

predecessor on the list of Sion's Grand Masters. His brother married 

into the Habsburg family and his daughter married the duke of 

Longueville, a title formerly held by 

Blanche d'Evreux; his great-niece married the duke of Lorraine and devoted considerable 

interest to the old sacred site of Sion-Vaudemont. In 1622 she had a special cross 

installed there, and in 1627 a religious house and school were founded. 

During the Wars of Religion Louis de Nevers was closely allied to the 

house of Lorraine and its cadet branch, the house of Guise who 

effectively exterminated the old Valois dynasty of France and nearly 

obtained the throne for themselves. In 1584, for example, Louis signed 

a treaty with the duke of Guise and the cardinal of Lorraine, pledging 

mutual opposition to 

Henri III of France. Like his colleagues, however, he became 

reconciled to 

Henri IV, and served as Superintendent of Finances to the new monarch. 

concert with Robert Fludd's father. Sir Thomas Fludd was Treasurer of 


the military contingent sent by Elizabeth I of England to support the 

French king. Louis de Nevers, like all the Gonzagas, was deeply versed 

in esoteric tradition and is believed to have associated with Giordano 

Bruno who, according to Frances Yates, was involved in certain secret 

Hermetic societies which anticipated the 

"Rosicrucians'. In 1582, for example, Louis was in England, consorting 


Sir Philip Sidney (author of Arcadia) and John Dee, the foremost English esotericist of his 

age. A year later Bruno visited Oxford and consorted with the same people, and, Frances 

Yates maintains, furthered the activities of their clandestine organisation. 

ROBERT FLUDD. Born in 1574, Robert Fludd inherited John Dee's mantle 


England's leading exponent of esoteric thought. He wrote and published prolifically on a 

broad spectrum of esoteric subjects, and developed one of the most comprehensive 

formulations of Hermetic philosophy ever written. 

Frances Yates suggests that some of his work may be "the Seal or secret 

code of a Hermetic sect or society'. Although Fludd himself never 

claimed to be a member of the "Rosicrucians', then causing a sensation 

on the continent, he warmly endorsed them, declaring that the "highest 

good' was the "Magic, 

Cabala and Alchymia of the Brothers of the Rosy Cross'. 

At the same time Fludd rose to an esteemed position in the London 

College of Physicians and his friends included William Harvey, who 

discovered the circulation of the blood. Fludd also enjoyed the favour 

of James I and 

Charles I, both of whom granted him rent from lands in Suffolk. He was 

among the conclave of scholars who presided over the translation of 


King James Bible. 

Fludd's father had been associated with Louis de Nevers. Fludd himself was educated at 

Oxford, where John Dee and Sir Philip Sidney seem to have established an enclave of 

esoteric interests a few years before. Between 1596 and 1602 Fludd travelled extensively 

in Europe, consorting with many people subsequently involved in the "Rosicrucian' 

movement. Among these was one Janus Gruter, a close personal friend of Johann 

Valentin Andrea. 

In 1602 Fludd received an interesting and, for our purposes, 


significant commission. He was specifically called to Marseilles, to 

act as personal tutor to the sons of the duke of 

Guise, particularly Charles, the young duke of Guise. His association 


Charles appears to have continued as late as 1620. 

In 1610 Charles, Duke of Guise, married HenrietteCatherine de Joyeuse. 

The taller's possessions included r_n,_,;7a _a+ hP fnn+ of the: 

mn,m+ain nn which _RPnnac_IP_ Chateau is situated. And they included Arques, site of 

the tomb identical to the tomb in Poussin's painting. 

Some twenty years later, in 1 631 , the duke of Guise, after conspiring 

against the French throne, went into voluntary exile in Italy, where he 

was soon joined by his wife. In 1640 he died. But his wife was not 

allowed to return to France until she consented to sell Couiza and 

Arques to the crown, z 

JOHANN VALENTIN ANDREA. Andrea, the son of a Lutheran pastor and 

theologian, was born in 1586 in Wurttemburg, which bordered on Lorraine 

and the 

Palatinate of the Rhine. As early as 1610 he was travelling about 

Europe and was rumoured to be a member of a secret society of Hermetic 

or esoteric initiates. In 1614 he was ordained deacon of a small town 

near Stuttgart, and seems to have remained there, unscathed, through 

the turmoil of the 

Thirty Years War (1618-48J that followed. 

ROBERT BOYLE. Robert Boyle was born in 1627, the youngest son of the 

earl of 

Cork. Later he would be offered a peerage of his own, and declined it. He was educated 

at Eton, where his provost, Sir Henry Wotton, was closely connected with the 

"Rosicrucian' entourage of Frederick of the Palatinate. 

In 1639 Boyle embarked on a prolonged European tour. He spent some 

time in 

Florence where the Medicis, resisting papal pressures, continued to 

extend support for esotericists and scientists, including Galileo. And 

he passed twenty-one months in Geneva where he acquired a number of 

esoteric interests, including demonology. During his sojourn in Geneva 

he obtained a work, "The Devil of Mascon', which he had translated by 

one Pierre du 

Moulin, who was to become a lifelong friend. Du Moulin's father was 

personal chaplain to Catherine de Bar, wife of Henri de Lorraine, Duke 



Bar. Subsequently, the elder du Moulin obtained the assiduous 

patronage of Henri de la Tour dAuvergne, Viscount of Turenne and Duke of Bouillon. 

On his return to England in 1645, Boyle immediately established contact with the circle of 

Samuel Hartlib, Andrea's close friend and correspondent. 

In letters dated 1646 and 1647, he speaks repeatedly of the 


College'. He declares, for example, that 'the cornerstones of the Invisible or (as they term 

themselves) the Philosophical College, do now and then honour me with their company." 

By 1654 Boyle was at Oxford, where he consorted with John Wilkin, 

former chaplain to Frederick of the Palatinate. In 1 660 Boyle was 

among the first public figures to offer allegiance to the newly 

restored Stuarts, and 

Charles II became patron of the Royal Society. In 1668 he established 

himself in London, living with his sister who was related by marriage 


John Dury, another friend and correspondent of Andrea. At his London 

premises Boyle received numerous distinguished visitors including 


III de' Medici, subsequently ruler of Florence and grand duke of Tuscany. 

During these years Boyle's two closest friends were Isaac Newton and 


Locke. He is said to have taught Newton the secrets of alchemy. In 

any case the two of them met regularly to discuss the subject and study 

alchemical works. Locke, in the meantime, shortly after making Boyle's 

acquaintance, embarked for a lengthy stay in the south of France. He 

is known to have made special visits to the graves of Nostradamus and 

Rene d'Anjou. He is known to have wandered in the vicinity of 

Toulouse, Carcassonne, Narbonne and, quite conceivably, 

Rennes-leChateau. He is known to have associated with the duchess of 

Guise. He is known to have studied Inquisition reports on the Cathars, 

as well as the history of the legends according to which the Magdalene 

brought the Holy Grail to Marseilles. In 1676 he visited the 

Magdalene's alleged residence at Saint Baume. 

While Locke explored the Languedoc, Boyle maintained a voluminous 

correspondence with the continent. Among his papers there are letters 

comprising half of a sustained exchange with an elusive and otherwise 

unknown individual in France one Georges Pierre, quite possibly a 


pseudonym. These letters deal extensively with alchemy and alchemical 

experimentation. More important, however, they speak of Boyle's 

membership of a secret Hermetic society which also included the duke of 

Savoy and du 


Between 1675 and 1677 Boyle published two ambitious alchemical 

treatises Incalescence of Quicksilver with Gold and A Historical 

Account of a 

Degradation of Gold. In 1689 he published an official statement 

declaring he could not receive visitors on certain days which he had 

set aside for alchemical experimentation. This experimentation, he 

wrote, was to comply with my former intention to leave a kind of 

Hermetic legacy to the studious disciples of that art and to deliver 

candidly in the annexed paper some processes, chemical and medical, 

that are less simple and plain than those barely luciferous ones I have 

been wont to affect and of a more difficult and elaborate kind than 

those I have hitherto published and more of a kind to the noblest 

Hermetic secrets or as Helmont styles them "arcana majora'.3 

He adds that he intends to speak as plainly as he can, "though the full and complete uses 

are not mentioned, partly because, in spite of my philanthropy, I was engaged to secrecy." 

The "annexed paper' to which Boyle alludes was never found. It may well have passed 

into the hands of Locke or, more likely, Newton. On his death in 1691 Boyle entrusted all 

his other papers to these two confidants, as well as samples of a mysterious "red powder' 

which figured prominently in much of Boyle's correspondence and in his alchemical 


Isnnc NEWTON. Isaac Newton was born in Lincolnshire in 1642 descended from "ancient 

Scottish nobility', he himself insisted, although no one seems to have taken this claim very 

seriously. He was educated at Cambridge, elected to the Royal Society in 1672 and 

made Boyle's acquaintance for the first time in the following year. In 1689-90 he became 

associated with John Locke and an elusive, enigmatic individual named Nicholas Fatio de 



Descended from Genevan aristocracy, Fatio de Duillier seems to have 

wafted with cavalier insouciance through the Europe of his time. On occasion, he appears 

to have worked as a spy, usually against Louis XIV of France. He also appears to have 

been on intimate terms with every important scientist of the age. And from the time of his 

appearance in England, he was Newton's single closest friend. For at least the next 

decade their two names were inextricably linked. 

In 1696 Newton became Warden of the Royal Mint and was subsequently 

instrumental in fixing the gold standard. In 1703 he was elected 

President of the Royal Society. Around this time he also became 

friendly with a young 

French Protestant refugee named jean Desaguliers, who was one of the 


Society's two Curators of Experiments. In the years that followed, 

Desaguliers became one of the leading figures in the astonishing 

proliferation of Freemasonry throughout Europe. He was associated with 

leading Masonic figures like James Anderson, the Chevalier Ramsay and 

Charles Radclyffe. And in 1731, as Master of the Masonic Lodge at 


Hague, he presided over the initiation of the first European prince to 

become a member of "the craft'. This prince was Francois, Duke of 

Lorraine who, after his marriage to Maria Theresa of Austria, became 

Holy Roman 


There is no record of Newton himself having been a Freemason. At the 

same time, however, he was a member of a semi-Masonic institution, 


"Gentleman's Club of Spalding' which included such notables as 


Pope. Moreover certain of his attitudes and works reflect interests 

shared by Masonic figures of the period. Like many Masonic authors, 

for example, he esteemed Noah, more than Moses, as the ultimate source 

of esoteric wisdom. As early as 1689 he had embarked on what he 

considered one of his most important works, a study of ancient 

monarchies. This work, The 

Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended, attempted to establish the 

origins of the institution of kingship, as well as the primacy of 

Israel over other cultures of antiquity. According to Newton, ancient 

Judaism had been a repository of divine knowledge, which had 

subsequently been diluted, corrupted and largely lost. Nevertheless, 

he believed that some of it had filtered down to Pythagoras, whose 


"music of the spheres' he regarded as a metaphor for the Law of 

Gravity. In his attempt to formulate a precise scientific methodology 

for dating events in both Scripture and classical myth, he employed 

Jason's quest for the Golden 

Fleece as a pivotal event; and like other Masonic and esoteric writers, he interpreted that 

quest as an alchemical metaphor. He also endeavoured to discern Hermetic 

"correspondences' or correlations between music and architecture. And, like many 

Masons he ascribed great significance to the configuration and dimensions of Solomon's 

Temple. The dimensions and configuration of the Temple he believed to conceal 

alchemical formulae; and he believed the ancient ceremonies in the Temple to have 

involved alchemical processes. 

Such preoccupations on Newton's part were something of a revelation to us. 

Certainly they do not concur with his image as it is promulgated in our own cent